Speedboat carrying Chinese tourists explodes; 16 injured

Speedboat carrying Chinese tourists explodes; 16 injured

Fire engults a speedboat that exploded off Krabi province on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Krabi Pitakpracha Foundation)
Fire engults a speedboat that exploded off Krabi province on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Krabi Pitakpracha Foundation)

KRABI: Sixteen people were injured when a speedboat carrying 26 Chinese tourists exploded off Phi Phi island on Sunday.

Six people suffered severe burns, while 10 others were less seriously hurt.

The speedboat, King Poseidon 959, picked up 26 Chinese tourists - including three children - from Phuket province on Sunday morning for a trip to the Phi Phi islands. Four Thai crew and a tour guide - were also on board.

As the boat was passing the Viking cave on Phi Phi Le in Muang district, a fuel leak was noticed. The driver asked an attendant to take over the steering and went to check the boat's engines.

As he was opening the cover of one of the three engines, there was an explosion, and fire rapidly engulfed the vessel. Passengers dove into the water as the boat sank.

A local disaster mitigation official said officials might take about a week to retrieve the damaged boat and determine the cause of the explosion. The injured were sent to hospitals in Krabi and Phuket.

Later Sunday Pol Col Krisana Patanacharoen, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Police Office, said the speedboat belonged to Thai Fu Charoen Co in Phuket. It had left the Sea Angel pier en route to the Phi Phi islands.

According to the deputy spokesman, at about 11.30am, the boat was about to leave the Pileh bay off Phi Phi Le when the captain, Kriangkrai Boonsri, smelled fuel aboard. The captain slowed down the boat to check the engine area.

He found a fuel tank was leaking from the stern into the middle of the boat. He shut the valve of the tank to examine it more closely.

A spark apparently caused an explosion and the boat's engine was engulfed in flames. Everyone aboard then jumped off the boat and were rescued by nearby tourist boats.


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