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The bodies of five of the seven dive victims are returned to Phuket

Phuket Dive Boat Dead Need Questions Answered

Thursday, November 12, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis

POLICE HAVE completed the official investigation into the sinking of the Dive Asia 1 but have declined to make the report public.

Six dive tourists and the boat's Thai cook died when the vessel capsized unexpectedly in a sudden storm on March 8, as the boat returned to Phuket from the Similan Islands.

Another 23 people on board, including the vessel's captain, managed to escape in two liferaft and were rescued many hours later.

Police Colonel Chinarat Rittakananan, Chief of Chalong police station, told Phuketwan this week that he had concluded his investigation into the causes of the sinking.

He had checked ownership documents, business registration, the number of passengers, the captain's actions on the night, and the original design blueprint. Everything was as it should be, he said.

As three Austrians, two Swiss, a Japanese and a Thai drowned in the mishap, the colonel's report has been passed on to the Ambassadors from Austria, Switzerland, and Japan.

The colonel said he was not authorised to give the full report to Phuketwan. However, Phuketwan believes that the sinking of Dive Asia 1 requires further investigation.

Why did a vessel that was virtually brand new sink so rapidly in a typical Andaman Sea squall? If the weather was out of the ordinary, why was no warning issued to Dive Asia 1 and other boats at sea?

Why was no alarm sounded on Dive Asia 1 either immediately before the squall struck the boat, or immediately afterwards? Once the scale of the disaster became apparent, why was no aerial search mounted?

In effect, the survivors eventually called in their own rescue, using a survivor-kit mirror to attract the attention of a local boat, then ringing Dive Asia personnel on a borrowed mobile telephone.

At that stage, the survivors were a mere 20 kilometres off the coast, within sight of Patong. The sun was shining. It was a bright high-season day.

Later that week, Phuketwan was on the Marine Police boat that helped to recover five of the victims, and return their bodies to Phuket.

The five were trapped inside Dive Asia 1 when it went down. They didn't stand a chance. If the storm had struck a little later, after 11pm, most of those on board would have been asleep. The toll could have been much higher.

Bringing bodies up from the bottom of the sea is not an experience that anyone should have to go through, or want to go through again.

Yet only when all the relevant questions are answered will a repetition of this disaster be unlikely. And that is, after all, what the aim of the appropriate authorities should be.

In most countries, a disaster of this scale would be the subject of a full and open public inquiry by a coroner, or a specialist judicial investigation.

For the sake of tourism on Phuket, and for the families of the victims, more questions have to be asked. And more answers have to be given.
More Reports, Analysis, Photo Albums

Nightmare at Sea: How a Dive Boat Disappeared
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Aussie Dive Survivor Tells: 'I Walked the Walls'
Inquiry Call Phuketwan calls for an independent inquiry into the diving disaster and relates the nightmare experience of one Aussie diver who survived the sinking of the MV Dive Asia 1.
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Dive Asia Disaster: Why Public Inquiry is Essential
Latest Two weeks on, and the dive industry and the public know only a little more about the sinking of the MV Dive Asia 1. It's time there was a thorough, independent inquiry. Here's why.
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Boat Sinking Update: Five Bodies Recovered
Boat Sinking Latest Divers have recovered five bodies from inside the sunken MV Dive Asia 1. They have been transported back to Phuket for identification.
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Why Pursuing the Truth Matters for Tourism
Opinion/Analysis Does it matter if the truth is never known about mishaps that kill tourists on and around Phuket? It matters because of trust. Only once the whole truth is told can trust be restored.
Why Pursuing the Truth Matters for Tourism

Comments

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The fact that the Chalong police chief was responsible for the investigation of the accident demonstrates the low level of priority this incident has been given.

Posted by Buster on November 13, 2009 09:07


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