Boat capsize: Rescuers battle rough seas

Thai rescue workers battled rough seas Saturday as they resumed the search for a British man missing after a speedboat accident that left three foreign women dead, police said.

The boat, which was carrying 32 tourists plus four crew, capsized Thursday afternoon after it was slammed by a wave near a rocky stretch of coast on Koh Samui, a popular island in the Gulf of Thailand.

Thai officials say three women -- from the United Kingdom, Germany and Hong Kong --  died in the accident, which threw all of the passengers overboard, trapping some under the ship's hull.

Forty rescue workers continued searching Saturday for a missing British man, said an officer from the island's tourist police force.

"The obstacle for today is the rough seas, but we will try our best," Thanakorn Pattananun told AFP.

The tourist was travelling with his wife, who survived the accident, he added.

The boats that ferry tourists around Thailand's popular beaches are notoriously reckless and life vests are often in short supply.

Police have charged the Thai captain who drove the tour boat with negligence leading to deaths and injuries, a crime that carries up to 10 years in prison.

Britain's Foreign Office said Saturday it was in touch with Thai authorities and the victims' families.

Although tourism remains a key source of income for Thailand, the kingdom's reputation as the "Land of Smiles" has suffered in recent years amid a string of deadly bus and boat accidents and crimes against foreigners.

In January a speedboat struck and instantly killed a French tourist while she was snorkelling in waters reserved for swimmers off a Thai island in Krabi province.

 

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