Search resumes for 2 missing South Koreans after Thai boat crash: Police

BANGKOK (AFP) - The search has resumed for two South Korean tourists missing off Thailand's southern coast after their tour boat crashed into a fishing vessel, the police said on Monday.

The accident occurred on Sunday evening when the speedboat, carrying around 40 passengers - including South Koreans, Chinese and a number of Western tourists - struck a fishing boat in the Andaman Sea between the popular islands of Phi Phi and Phuket.

"The driver of the speedboat was distracted and pulling a plastic bag from his foot when he crashed," Colonel Pruttipong Nuchnart of Krabi police told AFP, adding he had been arrested for careless driving. "Navy and maritime police are searching for a man and a woman from South Korea who went missing in the water after the crash," he added. Conflicting reports on Sunday said the missing duo were Chinese.

The search was postponed overnight.

Accidents involving boats, buses and other forms of public transport are common in Thailand, where safety standards are generally lax.

The Thai authorities are desperate to restore the kingdom's reputation as a tourist haven, which has been buffeted in recent months.

Prolonged and often-violent protests in Bangkok resulted in a coup on May 22 and the introduction of martial law - which is yet to be revoked.

The murder of two British holidaymakers on the southern resort island of Koh Tao in mid-September has also raised serious fears over tourist safety.

A murder probe into their deaths has been dogged by allegations of police bungling and ineptitude.

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