Six people, comprising four Russians and two Thais, were in critical condition after their boat, carrying 37 passengers, hit a channel marker in Chalong Bay in Phuket on Wednesday evening.
The accident occurred when the Thanathip Marine 555 brought mostly foreign tourists, 21 Russians, nine Kazakhs and one each from Hong Kong, China and Ukraine, back from the Phi Phi Islands to Chalong Bay at about 5.30pm. The Thais onboard were the driver, his assistants and a tour guide.
The boat smashed into the channel marker about 700 metres from the Chalong pier and sustained heavy damage. About 10 people, including the boat driver, suffered broken limbs.
Two people were reported to have serious injuries, while others were slightly injured. They were taken to seven different hospitals on the island.
Dr Weerasak Lorthongkam, director of Vachira Phuket Hospital, yesterday said the four Russians and two Thais were in critical but stable condition.
Of the four, two were just transferred from Chalong Hospital and are now being treated at Vachira Phuket Hospital, while the other two are being treated in Bangkok Hospital Phuket, he said.
Due to the accident, authorities are considering tighter screening protocols for drivers, including for illicit substances, to prevent such an incident from occurring again, he said.
Strict rules will also be put in place to require lists of passengers and crewmen, he said, adding every boat must insure its passengers.
“Luckily, no one drowned or fell off the boat,” he said, noting that it was insured. “Life jackets are necessary to prevent loss of life.”
Nachapong Pranit, chief of the provincial marine department, said the boat was taken after the incident to the Koktanod area in tambon Chalong for inspection by Chalong police and related agencies.
He said the office will today question the boat’s mechanic and other relevant individuals.
The captain will also be summoned for questioning as soon as his condition improves, he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Nacha- pong instructed officials to assess the damage to the channel marker.
Due to the incident, the provincial marine office invoked Section 170 of Navigation in the Thai Water Act 1913 to suspend the operation of the boat, he said, adding the boat must be checked by officials for safety before it can resume operating again.