The skipper of the sunken navy warship HTMS Sukhothai has sent a message to the sailors still missing as the search and rescue operation put an emphasis on areas close to shores.
“Please come back. All of us are waiting for you,” said Capt Pichitchai Thuennadee in a video clip shared among Royal Thai Navy circles before it was posted on the navy Facebook account on Sunday. His voice was sombre, but the tone showed his determination to see them again.
The clip also showed other navy soldiers searching for missing sailors under the operation “to bring our brothers back home”.
“I hope that there is a miracle like I have seen in movies,” one crew officer said. “I hope they are stranded on islands somewhere and are trying to find their way home,” the soldier added.
The warship, with 105 sailors and other soldiers on board, sank in stormy seas and rough weather last Sunday night off Bang Saphan district in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
The incident has claimed 14 lives, eight of them still in the process of identification, and 15 are still missing. Seventy-six others survived.
The latest two bodies were found on Saturday night and were to be taken to the field operations centre in Bang Saphan on Sunday.
Vice Adm Pichai Lorchusakul, commander of the First Naval Area Command, told a press briefing at the centre on Sunday the operation will comb through all beaches, islands and the sea along the coastline from Bang Saphan to Surathani.
“We will extensively focus on the shorelines and areas close to them,” he said with no further elaboration.
Vice Adm Pichai said the decision to send divers to check the sunken vessel on the sea bed was put on hold as of Sunday afternoon due to poor visibility beneath the surface and rough seas in the area. “If visibility improves, we will be ready for the dive. But the safety of soldiers must come first.”