PHUKET: The 4,000 ton cruise ship La Belle des Océans arrived safely in Phuket on Monday after running aground on a reef in the Andaman Sea overnight and being escorted into port by a Thai navy vessel.
The Belgian-owned ship was en route from Singapore to Phuket with 150 passengers and crew when it hit a reef in the sea off Krabi.
VAdam Choengchai Chomcheungpaet, the Royal Thai Navy Region 3 commander, said the La Belle Des Océans docked at Phuket deep-sea port about 11am. All passengers were evacuated. (continues)
Passengers line the rails of the MV La Belle Des Océans as it docks in Phuket.on Monday (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)
The ship was carrying 80 tourists, 78 of them French nationals, and 70 crew when it left Koh Lanta on Sunday night for Phuket. The sector was part of a round-trip excursion from Singapore to the resort island.
The vessel hit submerged rocks near Koh Pida Nok, part of the Koh Phi Phi islands group in Krabi province, around midnight. The ship tilted and began taking on water, according to the Thai Maritime Enforcement Commander Centre based on the Andaman Sea.
The captain reported the incident and Royal Thai Navy Region 3 dispatched the patrol boat HTMS Sriracha to assist. It accompanied the ship as it continued its journey to Phuket after it was learned the crew had the leak under control. (continues)
The La Belle Des Océans arrives in Phuket deep-sea port. (Photo by Achadtaya Chuenniran)
Pramok Urawan, a representative of Phuket Shipping Co, said the ship's captain was unfamiliar with the route. "There are no markings on the cruise maps to alert ships about undersea rocks in the area. Only local vessels know of them. Foreign vessels do not," he said.
The ship would return to Singapore for repairs, Mr Pramok said. The passengers were taken to a hotel in Phuket and would be flown back to Singapore.
The ship is 103 metres long and 15 metres wide, according to its website.