Forty-one people have been rescued and are on their way back to land, Police Lieutenant Kunakorn Pingsakul from Phi Phi island said at 5.20pm. Most of the 37 are Chinese tourists, say rescuers. Some are children. A spokesman for the Chao Fa Krabi Rescue Centre said: ''I am very surprised that any kind of small boat was on the water in this weather.'' The first 13, rescued by a Phi Phi boat, are remaining on the island overnight. The other 24 have returned to Phuket.
PHUKET: A speedboat from Phuket is reportedly in distress and a rescue is underway off Phi Phi this afternoon, Phuketwan has learned.
It is believed that 37 passengers were on board the Phuket vessel Lookpradu 21 when it got into trouble, according to initial reports.
Phuketwan has so far been unable to confirm reports that people were in the water.
Rescuers said the incident took place at 3pm. The speedboat was on a day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi island, a popular destination in good weather.
Marine Police on Phuket received a distress call from the speedboat saying it could not cope in high waves and driving rain.
Marine Police alerted rescue authorities on Phi Phi and on mainland Krabi. it is believed Krabi Marine Police responded by sending a vessel.
The speedboat got into trouble off Laem Lan, Phi Phi, but details have not yet become available.
The rescue was underway as the Phuket-based Southern Meteorological Centre (West Coast) repeated advice that small boats were not safe venturing out today.
Decisions on whether speedboats put to sea are in the hands of individual companies. Sinkings have occurred in bad weather in recent years.
A speedboat on a snorkelling trip from Phuket went down in January off Phi Phi soon after all on board had been rescued.
The incident came when other boats were in the water and able to come to the rescue.
In bad weather, when captains decide not to put to sea, those that do go to sea despite the warnings have fewer vessels nearby to come to their aid.
The vessel in distress was based at Rassada Pier on Phuket.