Israeli girl dies in Thai ferry fire

Bangkok (AFP) - A 12-year-old Israeli girl who was reported missing after a blaze destroyed a ferry packed with tourists in southern Thailand has been found dead, police said on Thursday.

Divers discovered her body trapped inside the toilet of the vessel a day after more than 100 foreigners were plucked from the Andaman Sea in a dramatic rescue when the ferry travelling between the town of Krabi and Phuket island caught fire.

"Divers found her body at around 11:00 am inside the toilet at the rear of the boat," Lieutenant General Decha Butnampetch, southern region police commander, told AFP.

He added she was the sole fatality from the accident and that her family have been informed.

Initially Krabi police had said everyone on board was safe but the Israeli girl was later listed as missing.

The search was called off due to strong currents and darkness after the sudden blaze Wednesday afternoon before resuming Thursday morning.

Among the passengers pulled from the sea were nationals from Britain, Switzerland, the United States and China.

Accidents involving boats, buses and other forms of public transport are common in Thailand, where safety standards are generally poor.

Overcrowded tourist ferries and other boats are notorious for capsizing, catching fire or hitting rocks, especially during peak tourist season when vessels are pushed to their limit.

In November 2013 three tourists were among six dead when an overcrowded ferry sank off the coast of the popular resort of Pattaya.

Thailand is striving to burnish its reputation as a tourist haven after 11 months which have seen a military coup, martial law, and scandals including the murder of two British backpackers last year.