41 Dead, 15 Still Missing in Boat Accident Off Thai Island

The death toll from the tourist boat accident off the southern Thai resort island of Phuket has risen to 41, and officials say divers and others are searching for 15 people who are still missing. At least 12 people have been treated at hospitals.

The boat was carrying 93 tourists, 11 crew and one tour guide when it was slammed Thursday by a 5-meter-high wave.The captain said debris blocked the pump used to clear water out of the boat, making it tilt. That made the craft vulnerable to more waves and it eventually capsized.

Most of the passengers were from China. Chinese President Xi Jinping urged Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese diplomats in Thailand to increase search-and-rescue efforts.

Officials have asked the Phuket Tourist Association to find 80 volunteer Chinese-language translators to help the rescued Chinese passengers at the provincial airport.

A second boat capsized off Phuket earlier Thursday. Officials said all 42 people on board � Chinese and European tourists � were rescued.

Severe weather in the area is expected until Tuesday, and Governor Norraphat Plodthong said Phuket officials had alerted the public about the storms.

Phuket is a popular destination for foreign tourists. Thirty-five million tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year.

Source: Voice of America