At least two dead, 20 injured after boats collide in Thailand

Two speedboats packed with 62 tourists collided off the coast of southern Thailand, leaving at least two dead and more than 20 injured, police said yesterday.

Passengers are helped ashore after being rescued following the crash between two speedboats. Picture: AP

The crash is the third incident in two weeks involving boats that shuttle holidaymakers to Thailand’s resort islands. The fatalities were identified as Chinese.

The collision involved a boat carrying 36 passengers and another with 26 travelling near the popular island of Phuket, said Lieutenant Colonel Prasert Srikhunrat, deputy superintendent of Phuket’s marine police.

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He said most of the passengers were Chinese tourists, including the two who died – a man and woman.

Tourism is a key source of revenue for Thailand, which received nearly 30 million foreign visitors in 2015.

Boat and tour bus crashes and other accidents involving tourists have become common.

On Sunday, a speedboat near the resort island of Koh Samet crashed into an anchored boat, injuring 30 people on board.

In late May, another speedboat carrying 32 tourists capsized in rough waters off Koh Samui, leaving three tourists dead. The victims were from Britain, Germany and Hong Kong.

In February, two Russian tourists were badly injured while scuba diving off Phi Phi island in Krabi province, when a speedboat’s propeller severed one of the men’s legs and cut deep gashes into the other man’s leg.

A 52-year-old French woman died after being struck by a boat while swimming in waters reserved for snorkellers near an island off Krabi province.

Police yesterday said they were investigating how the two boats crashed in broad daylight but suspected that speed was a factor.

“It had to be that they were going too fast, that’s why there was an accident,” said Lt. Col. Srikhunrat, He said there was light rain, which decreased visibility but he did not believe weather was entirely to blame.

“Luckily everyone was wearing life vests, or the number of fatalities would have been higher,” he said.

Marine police boats rescued people, many from the water, in an operation that took about 90 minutes, he said. The larger of the two boats sunk and the other boat was towed to shore, where paramedics treated the injured and carried some away on stretchers.