Six deaths officially confirmed, five pending identification on a confusing day of fluctuating body counts
Eighteen sailors are still missing from the doomed HTMS Sukhothai after the sixth day of search operations in the Gulf of Thailand, amid confusion over the number of bodies recovered and identified so far.
The navy said late Saturday that six more bodies had been recovered during the day, bringing the total to 11 since the search began. Of the 11, six have been positively identified as crewmen from the corvette that sank last Sunday. Identification is pending on the other five.
All remains were being sent to the Police General Hospital for autopsy and identification, before their relatives are formally notified, Royal Thai Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin said.
Confusion over the counting of bodies had led to reports earlier in the day that the total recovered since Monday was as high as 14. One of the bodies recovered was not believed to have been from the naval vessel but that has not been confirmed.
The six bodies recovered on Saturday were all found off Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan, where the ship sank. They included one body found by HTMS Taksin and recovered by HTMS Kraburi, another found by patrol ship 113 and recovered by HTMS Kraburi, and another detected by an aircraft and recovered by HTMS Taksin.
Adm Pokkrong said the air and sea search by the navy and other agencies would continue on Sunday. Diving teams were also active at the spot where HTMS Sukhothai sank.
He said divers from HTMS Kraburi were looking for missing crew who might be trapped inside the sunken ship, and would survey the vessel ahead of a salvage operation. However, strong undersea currents are hampering dive operations, he added.
HTMS Sukhothai, with 105 people on board, capsized on Sunday night after taking on water while patrolling in rough seas off Bang Saphan.
Seventy-six sailors were rescued alive and 29 were reported missing at the start of the search operation.