Dozens of Chinese tourists missing after boat capsizes off Thailand

Rescued people sit on a fishing boat. Dozens remain missing

Rescued people sit on a fishing boat. Dozens remain missing

Strong winds were still blowing as searchers looked for the missing in the Andaman Sea off the tourist island of Phuket late Thursday.

BANGKOK-A search and rescue operation continued for 49 people who remained missing Friday, a day after a tourist boat capsized in rough seas in southern Thailand.

Ambulances could be seen waiting for various people to be rescued. It was not immediately clear if the passengers were tourists.

Stunned survivors of the boat accident huddled in blankets on a Phuket pier late Thursday.

The other, carrying 39 people - reportedly Chinese and European tourists - also capsized in a separate incident in the same area.

"I have not yet received any reports of people floating in the sea", he said, adding a flicker of hope was that the boat went down so fast an air pocket may have been created.

Thai media showed photos of people rescued from one of the boats in large rubber life rafts at sea, with fishing boats and churning water in the background.

Photographs circulating on social media showed soaked and exhausted passengers - a lot of them Asian - in life jackets being pulled on inflatable rafts to safety.

"They were all wearing life jackets."

"All agencies are co-operating in their search at this time", Mr Norraphat said.

They are said to have been a group of Chinese tourists.

Rescuers found the boys after 10 days and a multinational rescue operation to extract the boys is still ongoing. "We continue to gather a team to search for them", the Water Safety Department of the Harbour Department said. "They have ignored our warnings many times before by departing from ports with tourists into the Andaman Sea while wind and waves are at unsafe level".

Phuket is a magnet for overseas visitors including Western sun-seekers and huge numbers of Chinese tourists who make up the bulk of the 35 million people expected to visit the kingdom this year.

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