Three bodies found in Thai boat disaster

Thai rescue workers have pulled three more bodies from the Andaman Sea following a boat accident

Thai rescue workers have pulled three more bodies out of the sea, as the grim task of identifying more than 40 dead gets underway following a boat accident off the coast of Phuket last week.

The boat, the Phoenix, went down off Phuket in high seas on Thursday with 101 people on board, including 89 mostly Chinese tourists, during an outing to a small island. Twelve Thai crew were also on board.


The death toll makes it the worst tourist-related disaster in Thailand in years and underscores long-standing concerns about the industry's safety.

Forty-four people have been confirmed dead and 54 were rescued, officials said on Tuesday.

Rescuers are still searching for three missing people.

"The wind is quite strong," said navy commander Somnuek Prempramote, adding that plans to lift the sunken vessel were on hold.

"On moving the boat to see whether there are bodies underneath ... this task will need to be assessed to see if it affects evidence in this case. We will continue to consider this option," he said.

A Thai government minister blamed Chinese tour operators on Monday for the deaths for not respecting Thai safety legislation.

So far, more than 50 Chinese families have arrived in Phuket to identify their loved ones and take care of survivors, media reported on Monday.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited Phuket on Thursday and comforted some of the relatives.

The captain of the Phoenix has been charged with negligence causing death, police said. He has denied the charges.