Saturday, January 28, 2023

Search underway for 31 Thai sailors after shipwreck

BANGKOK ( Associated Press) — Thai navy ships and helicopters were searching for more than two dozen sailors who are still missing, more than 12 hours after a military ship sank overnight in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Navy said that till Monday afternoon, 75 sailors had been rescued from the HTMS Sukhothai sloop and 31 were still in the water. The large waves that caused the accident had subsided somewhat since Sunday night’s incident, but small boats were still at risk.

A rescued crew member, interviewed by Thai PBS television, said he had to swim in the water for three hours before being rescued. He said the ship was hit by 10-foot (3 m) waves as it was complicating rescue efforts.

“The waves are still high and we can’t see them along the horizontal line. We’ll have to fly in with helicopters and look for the bird instead,” Admiral Pokkrong Monthanthphalin, a spokesman for the navy, told Thai PBS.

Strong winds pushed seawater onto the sloop, affecting its electrical system on Sunday night and making the vessel more difficult to control. The Royal Thai Navy sent three frigates equipped with mobile pumps and two helicopters to try to assist the ship in removing the salt water, but they could not do much due to strong winds.

The loss of power allowed more salt water to enter the vessel, causing it to list and sink.

The incident occurred while the ship was on patrol 32 kilometers (20 mi) from the port in Bangsaphan district of Prachuap Kheri Khan province. The ship continued its normal course to assist fishermen who were in need of assistance.

“Our priority now is to rescue all the sailors. Later we will plan to refloat the ship,” he said. The search has been expanded to an area of ​​16 square kilometers (6.2 square miles) around the site of the shipwreck.

While central and northern Thailand are recording their lowest temperatures of the year, storms and flooding have been reported in the south of the country in recent days. It was recommended that all ships be kept at berth.

Nation World News Desk
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