July 23, 2018
From a ferry disaster near Sulawesi to a tragic accident on Myanmar’s Chindwin River, here are some of Southeast Asia’s boating tragedies.
On July 5, a boat carrying 105 tourists made global headlines when it capsized off the coast of the popular Thai holiday destination, Phuket, killing 47 Chinese passengers.
The Phoenix was caught in a storm on its way back from Koh Racha and was repeatedly battered by large waves, causing it to flood and list to one side, The Straits Times reported. Those on board donned life jackets and prepared the boat’s inflatable life rafts, but while some were rescued, dozens remained missing.
A long search of the area slowly yielded the bodies of those unaccounted for, some of them from within the sunken vessel, AFP reported.
According to The Nation, thousands of Chinese tourists cancelled Phuket hotel bookings after the tragedy, and the accident has raised questions about Thailand’s safety regulations.
As Thailand continues to sort out the issue, here is a look at other boating incidents in Southeast Asia.
31 people drowned when a ferry sank off the coast of Sulawesi island in Indonesia after being caught in a storm, Reuters reported. The ferry captain managed to steer the troubled vessel onto a reef, preventing it from sinking and allowing for the evacuation of over a hundred of the 164 passengers on board.
The incident followed in the wake of another devastating boating disaster on Lake Toba on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra, according to Reuters. The overloaded ferry sank in the volcanic lake, causing the deaths of over 200 people.
In early 2017, a small boat carrying 28 Chinese tourists sank in Sabah. The boat was heading to Pulau Mengalum, an island west of Sabah, when it began listing and sank, The Star reported. The shocking event marked the start of an over 30-hour ordeal for the passengers, who tied themselves together and awaited rescue while enduring both scorching heat and a cold night. 20 of the passengers, as well as the boat’s skipper and one crewman, were rescued by fishermen the following day.
The 25-year-old skipper was sentenced to six months in jail for negligence, as the boat had been carrying 28 passengers instead of the 12 permitted, The Star reported.
A ferry carrying more than 250 passengers and 18 motorbikes capsized on the Chindwin River on October 1, Eleven Media reported.
The incident occurred during Myanmar’s Thadingyut festival, when there is usually a surge in the number of travellers.
The ferry is thought to have been overloaded, with one passenger, Aung Kyaw Oo, allegedly informing officials of the problem and even suggesting they reduce the number of people on the boat, according to Eleven Media.
More than 150 people were rescued, but a total of 72 died as a result of the disaster, AFP reported.