Thailand boat sinking: At least 21 confirmed dead

Tourists on the Phoenix PD diving boat are rescued by a trawler after their vessel sank in Phuket on Thursday

Tourists on the Phoenix PD diving boat are rescued by a trawler after their vessel sank in Phuket on Thursday

PHUKET, THAILAND-The family of a Chinese woman and her two children who were among the victims of a tourist boat disaster off the Thai resort island of Phuket shared ominous video of the chaotic scene on the boat before it capsized, and said Saturday they're demanding "justice" from the Thai authorities.

The vessel, which made a day trip from Phuket despite a weather warning, keeled over after it was battered by five-metre high storm waves in the Andaman Sea.

Thai officials didn't confirm the number of deaths in their latest press conference, but a government site is still reporting at least 40 dead and there are conflicting numbers in media reports.

"Right now officials from the marine police and navy are helping to dive at the spot where the boat sank", Thailand's Marine Police said in a statement.

The boat was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, mostly Chinese.

"The skies were clear when we went out, we had no idea the weather could change so fast", AFP quoted one of the survivors, Wu Jun, 28, as saying from the hospital bedside of his wife Long Hai Ning.

The couple was on their honeymoon and managed to escape the sinking boat. The boat, which went down about 7 km (5 miles) from shore, was properly registered and had not been overloaded, police said.

Many tour operators have complained about lax enforcement of basic safety measures, such as seatbelts in cars and lifejackets on boats.More than 20 people were killed when a tourist boat carrying 150 people capsized in Thailand's ancient city of Ayutthaya in 2016.

Helicopters continued to scan the water Friday afternoon in what appeared to be an increasingly forlorn hunt for survivors.

Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong had earlier said that five bodies were found on Saturday, in addition to 37 bodies recovered on Friday.

Police have said they may file negligence charges soon against the captain of the boat.

Other photos showed Thai rescue personnel delivering injured passengers onto Chalong pier in Phuket for medical treatment.

Most of Thailand's diving experts have been diverted to the north to a rescue operation at a flooded cave where 12 schoolboys have been trapped for two weeks.

A Chinese consular official has arrived at the operations centre in Phuket to monitor the rescue effort.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said a taskforce was on its way to Thailand.

At least 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler when one of the vessels, carrying 97 people, overturned in strong winds and rough seas.

Forty-one of those on board have been confirmed dead and another 49 rescued, officials said, leaving 15 unaccounted for.

Chinese tourists make up the biggest foreign visitors to Thailand, with numbers surging in recent years due to the increasing popularity of Thailand's islands and cosmopolitan.

Thailand has a poor record on road and boat safety, according to Reuters.

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