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Waves smash Phi Phi like nothing since the tsunami, said one resident

PHOTO SPECIAL Phuket Region Storm Sinks Phi Phi Ferry, Speedboats, Longtails: Two Men Missing

Saturday, November 23, 2013
PHUKET: A savage storm sank one ferry and wiped out more than 20 speedboats and longtail boats off Phi Phi today. Two fishermen and their trawler were still missing.

The day of disaster for so many vessels in the Puket holiday region raised again questions about safety at sea - and the gung-ho approach of some ''captains'' who head out regardless in unsuitable weather.

Fortune favored the ferry Jetwave when the storm struck. The ferry almost managed to make it back to Phi Phi pier in Ton Sai Bay after being caught by the storm in a crossing from mainland Krabi.

More that 20 speedboats and longtails in Ton Sai Bay were sunk or wrecked in the sudden, powerful storm. Squalls with waves of three to four metres caused the damage.

On Phuket, ferries that set out from the island's Rassada Pier were forced to turn back. With big boats endangered, small boats were easy prey for the powerful storm.

The dive boat Barracuda, anchored in Ton Sai Bay, split in two and sank. Four Phi Phi speedboats went down, along with one speedboat from Phuket.

Fifteen longtails from Phi Phi were wrecked.

Authorities were most concerned about two men, missing on a fishing trawler.

One expat Phi Phi resident said: ''The lines holding the ferry stern to the waves exploded so it went sideways and washed up in the shore. It's full of garbage so it's probably going to be an environmental nightmare.

''Bags of garbage were exploding off of it. With each wave. It make break apart and scatter tens of tonnes of garbage into the bay.''

With no harbormaster enforcing safety on Phuket or in the surrounding region, all boat ''captains'' are free to set out to sea as they wish, without regard to dangerous conditions.

International safety experts have been calling for Phuket to improve its standards to eliminate decisions being made by greedy ''captains'' or tour operators who have more concern for the money than the safety of passengers.

Earlier this year, more than 400 tourists who took to the sea off Phuket and Phang Nga on a dangerous day and were stranded offshore by a violent storm had to be rescued by a large Royal Thai Navy vessel.

The British Embassy has offered to help Phuket improve safety at sea and on Phuket's beaches but local authorities have been slow to react.

Thirty or more drownings have occurred at Phuket's beaches and day-trip destinations so far this year.

Storms today also flooded large areas in the provinces of Trang, Surat Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Sometimes I wonder what the Marine Police Chief's job specification is other than 'it's nothing to do with me' when anything happens maritime wise.

Posted by Mister Ree on November 23, 2013 11:57

Editor Comment:

Perhaps you mean the Marine 5 office chief?


This is despite the fact they were given warnings NOT to put to sea.

At Chalong pier, right now, they are piling tourists into speedboats.

Posted by Graham on November 23, 2013 12:08


Yep, squalls can be powerful around Phuket, could have ended with a lot of loss of life...lets hope the missing fishermen show up again alive .

Posted by Sailor on November 23, 2013 12:08


Harbor Captain an absolute necessity in a port like Phuket.
Once more the holy grab for money has caused disaster. Lets hope this is the lesson that was needed and is heeded.

Posted by Arthur on November 23, 2013 12:43


"At Chalong pier, right now, they are piling tourists into speedboats."
This late in the day is probably to Coral Island, which would be perfectly safe.

But anybody that went out in the open see this morning should have his head examined.

Posted by stevenl on November 23, 2013 13:25


I might add that considering the wind and wave direction, on Phi Phi the best place to wait out the storm was not the bay but out on the sea.

Posted by stevenl on November 23, 2013 13:34


The Barakuda boat did not split in two, it was beached and then broke up after hours of relentless pounding. No dive boats put out from phi phi for safety reasons and nobody was injured on the barakuda boat.

Posted by Eddy on November 23, 2013 22:55

Sunday November 28, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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