'No chance' of more survivors from sunken tourist boat off Phuket

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

Thai authorities have resumed a search for 23 missing people following a tragic tourist boat sinking this week.

At least 21 people died and dozens went missing Friday when a tourist boat capsized in rough seas off the coast of Thailand, officials said.

Five were found drifting face down in the water, still wearing life jackets, several miles from the area where the Phoenix sank after being hit by five-metre (15-foot) high waves in a storm on Thursday evening.

At least 10 of the dead where Chinese tourists.

Some of the bodies were found by divers who entered the wreck on Friday and others were floating in the water, navy official Narong Aurabhakdi said.

In this image made from video, people and police scramble on a pier waiting for rescued tourists from a boat that sank, Thursday, July 5, 2018, off Phuket, southern Thailand.

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

Tourism is a key driver of growth in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, making up 12 percent of gross domestic product, and the most foreign visitors come from China.

The Thai navy said the Phoenix had sunk 40 metres below the surface, a few kilometres off the coast of Koh He, an islet known for its coral formations and popular with day-trippers from Phuket.

"I'm not really sure how many will survive", a grim-faced Noraphat Plodthong, the governor of Phuket, told reporters.

Some 48 people - passengers and crew - were brought to safety before the operation was suspended late Thursday.

Police on Saturday said they have charged the ship's captain with negligence leading to damages, injury and death.

The Phoenix was among several boats to ignore the weather warning to take tourists on day-trips to the islands surrounding Phuket.

Thailand is already making worldwide headlines after 12 boys and their junior soccer coach were found alive this week after becoming trapped inside a cave in the country's north.

Stressing thorough search and rescue efforts, Premier Li Keqiang called on authorities to deal properly with the aftermath of the accidents, protect the rights and interests of Chinese nationals overseas and ensure their safety.

Chinese Ambassador Lyu Jian also had an "emergency conversation" by phone with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, the Chinese Embassy said in a statement.

"We hope that the Thai side can continue their best efforts and.do their best to treat the injured, comfort relatives and deal with other follow up measures", he said.

Two boats carrying over 130 foreign tourists, mainly Chinese, capsized in high tides and strong winds off the southern Thai resort island of Phuket on Thursday afternoon.

The accident is one of the worst boating disasters in recent history in Thailand, a nation with a poor health and safety track record despite being heavily dependent on tourism.

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