Thai divers scoured the wreckage of a boat filled with Chinese tourists that sank in a storm off the resort island of Phuket, as the death toll rose to 21 with about 35 others missing on Friday, officials said.
Nine bodies of Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket, where authorities had confirmed the death of another Chinese man. The nationalities of the others killed were not immediately known.
Some of the bodies were found by divers who entered the wreck Friday and others were floating in the water, said navy official Narong Aurabhakdi.
The boat was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, 11 crew and one tour guide when it toppled in 5-meter-high (16-feet) waves Thursday evening. At least 12 of the injured were hospitalized.
Another boat also overturned off Phuket on Thursday. Officials said all 42 on board have been rescued.
Jin Yilin, consul-general of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand, said a delegation from the Chinese Foreign Ministry is on the way to Thailand.
Thai media showed photos of rescued people in large rubber life rafts at sea, with fishing boats and churning water in the background. The images also showed survivors being lifted from the rafts and sitting in life jackets amid ropes on the deck of what appears to be a fishing trawler.
Phuket officials had earlier issued a warning of severe weather until Tuesday, including heavy rain and winds.
“All agencies are co-operating in their search at this time,” Phuket Gov. Norraphat Plodthongsaid. “We have given warnings ... but the winds are strong.”
He said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.
12 boats docked
Thai PBS television reported late Thursday that 12 boats with 263 passengers in all had been forced by the weather to stay docked at Racha island, a popular diving spot about an hour’s boat ride from Phuket.
They said they were providing food, shelter and water to the people, and if the weather did not clear, larger boats belonging to the navy would be sent to retrieve them.
The Thai incidents came after an overloaded boat carrying illegal Indonesian immigrants capsized in bad weather off Malaysia’s southern Johor state late Sunday.
The Malaysian coast guard said Friday that 25 people, including a woman, have been rescued. Ten others, including four women, were found dead. Rescue operations involving 150 personnel are ongoing for another nine people believed to be still missing.
Such tragedies are not uncommon in Malaysia. Many Indonesians are willing to risk their lives by traveling on boats believed to be old and unsafe to work in Malaysia illegally, or to return to their hometowns.