Survivor of sunken Thai tour boat recounts horrific experience

World Today

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In Thailand, at least 41 are dead after a tour boat sank off the coast of Phuket.

Another 15 are still missing. Earlier reports indicated that all of the victims were Chinese nationals, but it’s unclear if that’s the case.

One of the survivors spoke with CGTN’s Martin Lowe, and recounted the horrific experience.

Follow Martin Lowe on Twitter @MartinLoweTV

Junsiong Huang came to Thailand from southern China for a holiday in the sun with his family and friends.

Now four of them are dead, and he is in the hospital.

His brother, sister and two classmates were lost when the Phoenix, a Thai pleasure cruiser, was slammed by five-meter waves and sent to the bottom of the Andaman Sea.

“The waves were really high and stormy, they were hitting the boat constantly,” Junsiong recounted. “I was with my sister, brother and two friends from school – all of them are dead. I feel terrible.”

A total of 38 survivors have been treated here at Phuket Provincial Hospital. Dozens more are confirmed dead, with many people still unaccounted for. That figure is expected to rise, and almost all are Chinese.

“I only broke my hand,” Junsiong said. “I was climbing up to the top of the boat but stuff was flying around everywhere. A big piece of glass hit me.”

A team of specialist divers from China’s Ministry of Transport at Guangzhou have joined the rescue mission, as well as another group of experts from east China. China’s ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian is on site and is being kept advised.

Rescuers braved the raging storm which overcame a number of vessels near the resort island of Phuket on Thursday. People were literally plucked from the sea by an armada of private craft that went to their aid.

A search for survivors is continuing, along with the recovery of those who died and the grim task of identification.

Archayon Kraithong of the Royal Thai Police explained the process.

“Maybe the body has been found with a passport or we have taken a photo of the body in the hospital waiting for the relatives and anyone who knows and can identify the body and can match with the name and surname and with the embassy of the victim.”

Teams of divers are descending to the wreck of the Phoenix, which lies in 40 meters of water.

An investigation to determine how this tragic accident occurred has already begun – questions such as ‘why did the boat put to sea when bad weather was forecast’.

Those in the hospital include men, women, and children. The youngest is a girl aged just seven.

Junsiong may have survived, but he doesn’t consider himself fortunate. He is struggling to come to terms with his desperate loss.