THAILAND PLEDGES JUSTICE FOR CHINESE VICTIMS OF BOAT TRAGEDY

PHUKET (Thailand), Thailand’s government pledged to ensure justice for Chinese victims of a tour boat that sank in a storm off the southern resort island of Phuket, killing 42 people and leaving another 14 missing.

Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said on Sunday the government will “spare no one” as it seriously investigates the tragedy, one of the largest tourism-related disasters in Thailand since a 2004 tsunami that killed thousands.

Police were investigating whether the double-decker Phoenix dive boat had been inspected by marine officials as required before it set sail Thursday, Weerasak said. The Meteorological Department issued warnings for small ships not to go to sea that day but bigger boats like the Phoenix could sail after inspection.

The boat, with 105 people, including 93 tourists, capsized and sank after it was hit by 5-meter waves. Officials said all of the dead were Chinese comprising 13 children, 18 women and 10 men. The age and sex of another body wasn’t known.

Tourism is a vital part of the Thai economy, with the World Bank estimating the Southeast Asian nation generates about 12 percent of its gross domestic product from tourism receipts. Chinese tourists are a key driver of the industry, accounting for 9.8 million of the record 35.38 million tourists to visit the country last year.

Source: NAM News Network