Seven passengers dead and many still missing from a ferry that departed Sunday in Thailand from the island of Koh Lan and headed for Pattaya. The police chief, Pol Maj Gen Katcha Tatusatra, told reporters the captain confessed to taking drugs before the ferry departed.
According to reports in Bangkok Post, the ordeal occurred when the ferry wandered off course, hit rocks, punctured the vessel’s water pump and began to flood.
The 42-year-old captain, Saman Kwanmuang, noticed the problem and turned off all power to try to repair the water pump. He did not warn passengers, evidently to avoid panic. However, water began to flood the bottom floor and the passengers rushed to the top deck. This caused the boat to capsize.
Local Pattaya police confirmed there were more than 200 passengers on the double-decker ferry. However, the 12-meter ferry was only licensed to carry up to 150 people. Passengers report fighting broke out because there were not enough life jackets on the vessel operating over capacity.
Another ferry, which departed 15 minutes later for Pattaya, encountered the sinking ferry on its route and managed to rescue 15 of the struggling passengers.
Olga Blinova, a passenger on board the rescuing ferry, told RT reporters: “This was really terrifying! Shoes, stuff floating around. My husband and other people rescued one woman. She was the last one remaining in the water.”
Aleksandr, another passenger on the ferry which rescued 15 people, said “it all reminded me of the scene from Titanic. We quickly let down the ladder into the water. People began to swim up and we were catching them and taking them to the lower deck. Unfortunately, there were casualties. We dragged out two Chinese people, a man and a woman in their 30s or 40s. We started CPR, but unsuccessfully,” Aleksandr stated.
Local news agencies declared that amongst the seven killed, four of those were foreigners: a Chinese man, a Russian woman, and two Russian men. The three others were Thai.
Only 15 of the 100 wounded passengers sustained serious injuries, according to Itar-Tass reports.
Marines from Thailand’s Sattahip Naval Base continue diving to find missing passengers. All ferry service between Pattaya and Koh Lan is suspended while the search mission continues.
Drug use carries high penalties in Thailand and depends entirely on the drug and amount. Charges against the Captain have not yet been disclosed.
By: Cayce Manesiotis