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Survivors in blue towels on the dock at Phuket deep sea port

Squall Tipped Boat Without Warning: Survivor

Monday, March 9, 2009
Phuketwan Updating Report, plus Photo Album

SURVIVORS from the sinking of MV Dive Asia 1 arrived back on Phuket this afternoon to tell their stories of the drama at sea.

Some of the 23 who were on board arrived wrapped in blue towels because the sudden squall that sank the boat gave no warning.

A search is going on this afternoon for six tourists and a Thai dive boat staffer, still missing after the boat was overturned off the Similan island in a savage storm about 11pm last night.

The seven missing are two Swiss, two Austrians, one Japanese, one German and the Thai dive cook.

Police named the missing as: Jetzinger Gabrielle, Germany; Yuba Hirotsuga, Japan; Klaus Konradder, Austria; Monika Schuster, Austria; Sibylle Bucher, Switzerland, Rolf Niederberge, Switzerland; Jumpa Sorntat, Thailand.

The captain of the MV Dive Asia 1 Chatree Leechoi, 45, told Phuketwan after he reached Phuket's deep sea port today: ''We were heading back to Phuket last night when a huge squall hit us.

''We had no warning, no time to prepare. Not even a chance to put on life jackets.''

All 23 were thrown into the water.

''We were 12 miles out to sea,'' the captain said. ''There were two small dinghies that most of us scrambled into.

''But it was pitch black and we really couldn't see much.''

The captain said he had been working in the dive industry for about 20 years. The boat was new and well-maintained.

Eight of the people on the boat were Dive Asia staff.

When the boat left the Similans about 10pm to return to Phuket, there was no rain, no wind, no waves, the captain said.

The survivors were plucked from the water by a fishing boat about 9am this morning, which means they had been in the water for about 10 hours.

About 2pm, a marine police boat intercepted the fishing boat and carried the survivors back to the deep sea port where they arrived about 4.05pm.

Captain Chatree Leechoi said that a night voyage back to the pier at Chalong, on Phuket's east coast, was normal at the conclusion of a dive trip.

Dive Asia PADI Course Director Jurgen Schenker was on the dock to greet survivors.

Three ambulances were there on standby, but the survivors were all led to a room for a debriefing by officials. Names were added to a list of survivors.

The Governor of Phuket, Dr Preecha Ruangjan, interrupted playing host to a Royal princess who was visiting the island today.

He ordered a helicopter search of the region where the boat was overturned.

The boat was spotted about 6.30 pm tonight, about 30 kilometres from Cape Promthep, Phuket's southernmost point.

Vice governor Smith Palawatvichai was waiting at the dock this afternoon for the survivors.

Updating List of survivors

Chatree Leechoi, Thailand (captain)

Yuriko Kamada, Japan (Banthai Beach Resort and Spa)

Masayuki Kamada, Japan (Banthai Beach Resort and Spa)

Frank Bay, Germany

Kathrin Raab, Germany

Dr Stefan Mann, Germany

Michael Sampson, Australia

Markus Reitner, Germany

Kathrin Mayer, Germany (Evason Six Senses Phuket)

Danuiel Brunner, Switzerland

Voegtlin Reto, Switzerland (Garden Home Kata)

Anderegg Nicole, Switzerland (Garden Home Kata)

Stefan Grulms, Germany (Hilton Arcadia)

Suzanne Schrewe, Germany (Hilton Arcadia)

Diermaier Christian, Germany (Palm Village Rawai)

Pairat Simma, Thailand (divemaster)

Manop Jintalek, Thailand (crew)

Narin Voharn, Thailand (crew)

Dej Lhee-Chuay, Thailand (crew)

Thanaporn Rosdee, Thailand (crew)

Jukeapat Senayothee, Thailand (crew)

Jiravan Van-Ngam, Thailand (crew)

Storm Sinks Similans Dive Boat: Seven Missing
Dive Boat Sinking A storm off the Similan islands sank a dive boat last night. The boat included Australians, Austrians, Germans, Swedes, Japanese and Thais. Seven are unaccounted for.
Storm Sinks Similans Dive Boat: Seven Missing

Comments

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Can't help but be impressed by the actions of the Governor of Phuket and the vice governor.

Sounds like accolades are also due for the Royal Thai Navy.

Seems odd that the boat wasn't reported missing until 8.30am though. Prayers for those missing and hopes they are found well.

Posted by photo_journ on March 9, 2009 18:04

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My very deep condolences to all families, friends and colleagues of the missing. I am with you in spirit.

Posted by Graham on March 9, 2009 19:19

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Thanks for such detailed reporting of this situation. Also many thanks to the fishermen who actually rescued the survivors. Very concerning that there was a long delay in reporting the vessel missing and starting the search.

Posted by Jo on March 9, 2009 20:58

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Our thoughts and prayers go out to the divers and their families. It is never easy to hear about any tragedy where our own are involved.

Posted by Connie on March 10, 2009 02:52

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Our deepest condolences. We just arrived three weeks ago from a dive safari with DIVE ASIA 1, which was overbooked by 50 percent. Living in Indonesia, we hope that an investigation will clear any doubts about safety issues.

Posted by MichaelMade on March 10, 2009 06:24

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There was a great letter to the Gazette editor last year from a marine engineer who thought that converting fishing boats to dive boats was to blame for all the mishaps.
A fishing boat has its weight below the water line, tear out the refrigeration units, tons of ice and fish , then add a top deck and passengers and you have a boat that is too top heavy to withstand heavy seas.

Posted by Mustava Mond on March 10, 2009 09:40

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This was a purpose built dive boat of the highest quality. I have dived with Dive Asia many times and their professionalism is unrivalled. I can only hope that the missing are found alive. My sincere sympathy to all who have been affected by this unforeseen tragedy.

Posted by Mark R - St George Scuba on March 10, 2009 11:40

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Our son, Michael was one of the rescued, thank God. Our hopes go to those who still haven't been found

Posted by Max Sampson on March 10, 2009 14:28

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Diva Asia is one of the most professional dive and boat operators in South East Asia! We feel for them and give them all our sympathy and support. Two of Kata expats boat operators
BE STRONG DIVA ASIA!

Posted by Anonymous on March 10, 2009 17:52

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I second the above comment having lived and worked here in the dive industry for the last two years, they are a very professional outfit that has suffered a horrifying incident and I offer all my sympathy and support to them, the families, friends and crew of those on board. Rather than pointing fingers, offer support and assistance! Sincerest condolences to all involved.

Posted by Anonymous on March 11, 2009 10:41

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i dived with dive asia on their liveaboard 9 years ago and i was devastated to learn of this tragedy. i agree totally they are a well run highly professional company and comments by other on various sites who know nothing about the company should put their thought towards the missing and their family and also the dive asia staff. my thought and prayers are with them all.

Posted by stuartc on March 11, 2009 15:55

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It's sad to read this news. My question is why should any of these dive boats allowed to sail at night time? Is there any regulation that prohibits sailing at night time? Think of it, the danger is far too greater once there is an accident in terms of survivality and rescue operation. another question is how can a boat with that calibre breaks into two? Surely the issue of maintenance of these boats in Thailand shall be regulated in law. Tourism for Similan Islands will and maybe already been affected by this unfortunate incident. Similan Islands now used to be my favourite spot when it was suppose to be is.

Editor: Early reports that the boat broke in two came from marine police, but turned out to be incorrect. We are now looking at the answers to the kinds of questions you are asking.

Posted by Rorne on March 11, 2009 20:57

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i know jurgen and benno. they are top men.
having worked in the dive industry, one prepares for such things. i hope the captain put the bow into the storm.
the course would have been southerly. the storm probably would have been westerly. a wave would have center punched the beam. those boats are top heavy.

Posted by ron fremstad on March 16, 2009 00:04


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