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Death toll rises to 38 in Thailand boat accident, 18 still missing

Staff Writer |
At least 38 people were confirmed dead, and 18 remained missing after two boats overturned in rough seas in southern Thailand's Phuket on Thursday, Thai officials said on Saturday.

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Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong said another five bodies were found in the wreckage of the boat "Phoenix" under water, sending the toll to 38.

He said the Thai government has set up service counters in Phuket Airport to assist relatives of the victims who are coming Phuket.

For the injured tourists, the Thai government will cover all their medical expense. Relatives of each of the deceased tourist will get some 1.4 million baht (42,200 U.S. dollars) as compensation based on the boat's insurance and Thai laws, he said.

Two Chinese rescue teams have also arrived in Phuket to join the search for the missing tourists.

Rear Admiral Charoenphol Koomrasee, deputy commander of the Third Fleet of the Royal Thai Navy said that with 17 professional divers from Chinese rescue teams joining, they would clear the wreckage of "Phoenix" on Saturday.

"After clearing the wreckage to make sure there is no one trapped inside anymore, which is our focus today, we will pay more attention to the surface," Charoenphol said.

The deputy commander added that they are still working hard to find those who are still missing and they have dispatched helicopters, ships and divers for the search.

Two boats carrying many foreign tourists, mainly Chinese, overturned in high tides and strong winds on Thursday afternoon.

All the victims were from the boat "Phoenix," while all 42 people onboard the boat "Serenata" were rescued and safe.

A Chinese government joint working group arrived in Phuket on Friday night and held the first joint meeting with the Thai side on the day.

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