BANGKOK • Three foreign tourists were killed and another is still missing after a packed speedboat capsized off the popular Thai holiday island of Koh Samui, police said yesterday.
The boat, which was carrying 32 tourists and four crew members, flipped over on Thursday afternoon after it was hit by a wave near a rocky stretch of coast off the island in the Gulf of Thailand.
The bodies of a 28-year-old British woman and a 29-year-old German woman were retrieved that afternoon, said Mr Paiboon Omark, a district chief on the island.
Yesterday morning, rescue workers found the body of a third tourist, identified by the police as a Hong Kong woman in her 30s. A Hong Kong man, believed to be the woman's partner, was treated in hospital for scratches, the South China Morning Post reported.
"Her body (was) found at 10.30am some 500m from the accident site," said Mr Thanakorn Pattananun, the head of the island's tourist police.
A team of 50 rescue workers in seven boats was scouring the area for a British man who was still missing, he said.
The Thai captain of the Ang Thong Explorer speedboat was detained and charged with negligence leading to deaths and injuries.
"Weather was the cause of the accident because it created high waves, but the boat was also being driven at a high speed," said Mr Apichart Boonsriro, commander of the Surat Thani provincial police.
Four tourists - from Britain, Australia, Germany and Romania - were hospitalised for injuries they sustained during the accident, said staff at Samui hospital.
The boat was taking the tourists on a day trip to a string of nearby islands and was only a few metres from a pier when it capsized.
The British Foreign Office confirmed the death of a British woman, and said it was assisting her family. A spokesman said they were aware of another British national in hospital for injuries suffered in the same incident, but did not make reference to a third citizen.
"We remain in contact with the local authorities in Thailand for further information," she said.
The German Embassy in Bangkok was not available to comment.
Tourism is a key source of revenue for Thailand, but accidents involving tourists are common in a country where safety regulations are often weakly enforced.
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.