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Rescuers deployed in 20 zones

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: The search for the rest of the missing crew of the sunken HTMS Sukhothai continued yesterday (Dec 25) with a team of 53 divers and medics combing the seabed around the ship’s wreckage, according to Capt Phongsak Ramnut, director of the Diving and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Division under the Naval Ordnance Department.

By Bangkok Post

Monday 26 December 2022, 10:09AM

Capt Pichitchai Thuennadee, commander of HTMS Sukhothai, the ship that sank last Sunday (Dec 18) Photo: Screen capture from a Royal Thai Navy video clip

Capt Pichitchai Thuennadee, commander of HTMS Sukhothai, the ship that sank last Sunday (Dec 18) Photo: Screen capture from a Royal Thai Navy video clip

The divers and rescuers did not enter the wreckage, about 40 metres below the surface, as it was considered unsafe to do so due to strong tides and the state of the ship, he said.

Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin said yesterday that three more bodies had been found, meaning 11 others are still missing, reports the Bangkok Post.

The search operation will continue via air, land and sea in a target area divided into 20 sectors, he said.

Foot patrols are being conducted along the surrounding coastal areas where more bodies or survivors are likely to be found, he said.

The corvette HMTS Sukhothai sank on Dec 18 with 105 people on board as it was patrolling the rough seas off Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan district.

Of the 105 crew members, 76 were rescued while 18 others have been found dead since, said Adm Pokkrongl, adding that 11 of the crew remain missing.

Of the 18 victims, seven have been formally identified while others are being identified via markings on their bodies.

Two bodies were found late on Saturday night, south of Bang Saphan. A total of eight bodies were discovered and retrieved on Saturday.

At a coordination centre set up by the navy for relatives of the missing crew, the reality of the situation began to sink in for one mother.

She has been coming to the centre every day over the past seven days in the hope of hearing news about her son.

“Now I have to accept [that he was onboard the sunken ship],” she said. “Alive or dead, I still wish to be reunited with him.”

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Officials from the local administrative organisation in tambon Koh Tao and neighbouring Surat Thani have begun foot patrols along bays and beaches along the southern side of the island to aid the search.

Narongrit Thongnuan, kamnan of tambon Koh Tao, said waves would carry objects from the seas to the southern part of the island at this time of year.

Meanwhile, national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas said one of the seven recently identified bodies by the Institute of Forensic Medicine was that of Seaman Woraphong Bunlakhon.

He said a police forensic team had been instructed to set up an operations centre in Bang Saphan to support the operation.

In other news, the Pollution Control Department said it expects less than 1,000 litres of oil leaked from the sunken ship will wash ashore in Chumphon starting today.

It said the ship had up to 20,000 litres of oil in its tank when it sunk.

Elsewhere, the skipper of HTMS Sukhothai has sent a message to the sailors still missing as the search and rescue operation put an emphasis on areas close to shores.

“Please come back. All of us are waiting for you,” said Capt Pichitchai Thuennadee in a video clip shared among Royal Thai Navy circles before it was posted on the navy Facebook account yesterday. His voice was sombre, but the tone showed his determination to see them again.

The clip also showed other navy soldiers searching for missing sailors under the operation “to bring our brothers back home”.

“I hope that there is a miracle like I have seen in movies,” one crew officer said. “I hope they are stranded on islands somewhere and are trying to find their way home,” the soldier added.

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Kurt | 29 December 2022 - 05:54:50

Maverick,  .... BP article + photo (1 tank dive) they did that yesterday. Well, as in most thai onprofessional doings, to late finding survivors. Should have been done 1st thing after sinking. Hammering the hull doesn't take more than 3-4 minutes to be at depth of 30-34 meters. Choppy one don't feel at that depth, and visiblility not needed for hammering hull. 

Kurt | 29 December 2022 - 05:43:20

Maverick, for the Thai diver's memory I don't want to go into that sad cave happening. We let that rest, although from one foreign cave diver I know the whole true rescue story. Nothing to do with the Sukhothai. My point is that after sinking divers should have gone down to hammer signals on the hull and listen or there would be a reaction. In BP article + photo ( 1 tank dive) that they di...

Pooliekev | 28 December 2022 - 15:35:00

@Kurt. You're so competent, and yet haven't offered your expertise? Shameful, to assist your hosts should be paramount. 

maverick | 28 December 2022 - 09:58:59

Kurt@the navy diver who sadly passed during the cave rescue was diving on a single cylinder in a confined space - a trained cave or tech diver would never do that they always have contingency - looking at a wreck from outside will not determine if bodies remain in the wreck only a penetration and full search can do that.

Kurt | 28 December 2022 - 09:36:49

Who believes a sea going navy ship during times of bad weather has just 20 Tons of fuel in her tanks? And predicting that just 1 ton of oil will reach beaches. on what is that prediction based? It is all cover up nonsense talk of the navy. Are they thinking people are stupid?

JohnC | 27 December 2022 - 09:11:55

Certainly sounds like that 'captain' should be relieved of duty immediately. A videomessage  to dead sailors lost at sea because of his own incompetence. He would be locked up in a rubber room in any other country.

JohnC | 27 December 2022 - 09:07:54

Mr 'expert'. 40 metres is well below normal recreational diving depths. Open water certification is to only 18m, with 25m considered as advanced open water certification. Whatever drugs you are taking make you hallucinate impossible scenarios.

Kurt | 27 December 2022 - 08:47:36

And Maverick, we may suppose the thai navy has from 1st day tech divers at location, to hammer at least signals on the hull at about 35 meters during the first 24 hrs, right? They are anyway needed at the time of lifting the wreck, or at least for pumping all the oil out to prevent a local environment disaster.

Kurt | 27 December 2022 - 08:33:41

Maverick, 40 meters is water depth, search vessel can start on top of the wreck, which is about 8-10 meters above sea floor, yes, with tech wreck divers. Lost thai diver in cave rescue was no depth issue. And, no foreign diver involved in cave rescue  and actually saving all kids did die.

maverick | 27 December 2022 - 07:14:36

So Capt Kurt is now a technical diver spouting his usual nonsense - at 40 meters a recreational diver has 4 minutes dive time before going into deco - only highly qualified tech divers would enter the confined spaces of a wreck at that depth  - the loss of a navy diver during the cave rescue is a warning of the dangers 

Capt B | 26 December 2022 - 23:37:13

Unfortunately, the Thai Navy Divers will not get much accomplished. There are usually several Saturation Diving Support Vessels operating in The Gulf Of Thailand that should have been hired immediately after the sinking. Now all they'll be left with is dead sailors in air pockets.
Kind of reminds me of: The Ferry Sewol Part 2: "Never-Ending Heartbreak"

Fascinated | 26 December 2022 - 13:31:40

The Captain is a disgrace- I see they politicians are tying to blame a meterologist. Want to know the weather- open a porthole. He was responsible for the ship and its personnel, no one else. Why are navy personnel being referred to as soldiers- they are sailors.

Kurt | 26 December 2022 - 11:03:45

.."Rescuers deployed in 20 zones"..  But the most important zone, the inside of the Sukhothai they avoid , hiding behind nonsense excuses.. Is this to save face Captain Pichitchai, who perhaps left his vessel while there were still crewmembers on board? Well, the truth will come out, sooner or later.

Kurt | 26 December 2022 - 10:52:11

None of the 53 professional navy divers able to deal with a wreck at recreational depth? Hiding behind 'strong tides', and 'state of the vessel'??  What is the state of the ship?  We read they want to lift it, so divers will have to face the 'strong tides'. During tide changes there are always periods of quiet water currents. So. what nonsense are they selling to public? Wh...

Kurt | 26 December 2022 - 10:36:31

A full Captain, Pichitchai, commanding a small corvette (?), saved himself, sending a message/video clip to missing sailors?? Do I miss somthing about his mental? Seeing his photo, read about his doings, I wouldn't trust my sons to be his crewmembers. And, to command a frigate, what rank has that to be, a Rear-Admiral? Rank inflation in Thai navy?


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