Chinese families mourn loved ones who died in Thai tourist boat tragedy

World Today

Families of those killed in Thailand’s tour boat disaster are honoring the victims. The death toll stands at 46, all people found Chinese. This includes the last person located underwater, which is believed to be the last, missing passenger. Thai and Chinese divers are attempting to recover the body. 

The tour boat capsized in high tides and strong winds last Thursday. Of the 89 passengers, about half were rescued. CGTN’s Martin Lowe filed this report on the grieving families remembering their loved ones.

Follow Martin Lowe on Twitter @MartinLoweTV

Anguished relatives and rescuers working around-the-clock gathered for a ceremony at the pier. It’s where the pleasure boat Phoenix sailed.

For some family member, it was all too much. Cries of grief rang out. Being at the water’s edge, seemed to bring home the enormity of what happened. Monks chanted in unison. Offerings were made. Flower petals sprinkled into the sea. All the while, out of sight on the ocean, work was being done to recover the sunken boat, and piece together how the accident happened.

Earlier on the same day, there was another ceremony at a Buddhist temple. Inside, special mobile refrigerated units held the bodies of the dead. Some 41 victims from the sinking of the pleasure boat were brought there. The writing, in Chinese and Thai, read: “With condolences to those lost at sea.”

A nearby building holds row upon row of coffins. There were so many casualties, the hospitals couldn’t house them. The bodies were brought to the temple so the families could say their goodbyes, pray and reflect.

“We are representing the government of Thailand. The service was to show sympathy and respect for the families of those lost in the boat accident.” Phuket Governor Norapat Plodthong said.

Back at the pier, the families came together to share their sorrow. Candles were lit and flowers were laid.

For the families, it’s an emotional event, held at the pier where their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters climbed aboard the Phoenix for their last, fateful voyage. Some of the bodies will be taken back to China for burial. Others will be cremated in Thailand, and the ashes will be carried home. Many relatives want to wait for auspicious dates for the ceremonies, which is a common custom in Asia.