One more body was found yesterday at 4.15pm floating near the site where HTMS Sukhothai sank while the search for the remaining missing sailors continued into its fifth day, covering the three coastal provinces of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani.
The body will be sent for an autopsy to identify the deceased person, according to a report from HTMS Bang Rachan.
HTMS Bang Rachan arrived at the location where the sunken ship lies, and it dispatched divers and SeaFox submersible drones to see if any of the 23 sailors still listed as missing were trapped inside.
Vice Admiral Pichai Lorchusakul, commander of the First Naval Area Command, said the search area was expanded southward with surface vessels, seven helicopters and two drones deployed.
Officials from the Thai Maritime Enforcement Command Centre (Thai-MECC) in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani were also scouring the coast searching for the lost sailors.
Aswin Romprasert, a member of the Disaster Response Association of Thailand (DRAT), said more underwater drones were on standby to support the navy’s operation if requested.
He said the navy’s SeaFox drones have higher capabilities, but the smaller drones used in the search for the body of an 18-year-old tourist who fell from a jet ski in Kanchanaburi’s Srinakarin Dam reservoir could operate better in tight spaces.
As the search continued, HTMS Naresuan yesterday retrieved a life jacket in the sea off Chumphon and found a plastic bag with the personal belongings of PO1 Chakkrapong Poonpol, whose body was found on Dec 20.
In another incident, a life jacket from HTMS Sukhothai was also found in the sea off Koh Tao in Surat Thani province yesterday.
Fisherman Somphon Ngow said he found the life vest floating 25 nautical miles (50km) from the island.
The jacket bore the number 333 and the name Sukhothai, he said. Koh Tao district chief Vijarn Junthavijit said Mr Somphon reported his find to Koh Tao police station and handed the jacket over to the authorities.
Mr Vijarn said the office of the Thai MECC on the island confirmed that it came from the sunken ship.