Seven injured in Thai speedboat explosion still in hospital

Smoke rising from the wreckage of a speeboat after it exploded near the Phi Phi Islands on Sunday (Jan 14).
Smoke rising from the wreckage of a speeboat after it exploded near the Phi Phi Islands on Sunday (Jan 14). PHOTO: REUTERS/FACEBOOK/THOTSAPHON PHANOMTARA

KRABI - Seven people who were wounded in a speedboat explosion in Krabi province remain in hospital on Monday (Jan 15) while officials are collecting evidence to determine the cause of the incident, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported.

Forensic experts, police and officials from the regional marine office and marine national park have inspected the boat's debris following the explosion on Sunday.

The boat King Poseidon 959 was carrying 31 people - 26 Chinese tourists, a Chinese tour leader and four Thai crew members - on its way from Phuket Island to the popular beach destination of Phi Phi Islands off the western coast of Thailand, according to Phuket Gazette.

As the boat was passing Viking Cave, a limestone cave frequented by tourists at the north-western tip of Phi Phi, the driver reportedly detected a fuel leak and was checking on the engines when the explosion occurred.

The boat was engulfed in flames, forcing passengers to jump into the sea.

Sixteen people were injured, four of them seriously. On Monday, nine of them were released from the hospital.

Boat driver Kriengkrai Boonsri, 28, is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Krabi Hospital.

 

Thai police have questioned crewmen about the boat's engine condition before it left the shore, according to Bernama. They also checked on whether any of the tourists smoked cigarettes during the trip.

Thai Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat, who visited the injured at the hospital on Sunday, said the Chinese tourists who received treatment at Krabi Nakharin International Hospital suffered second degree burns on about 30 per cent to 50 per cent of their bodies. 

China's tourism authority said on Sunday it has initiated an emergency plan to help the injured Chinese nationals, reported Xinhua news agency.

The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) has urged local hospitals to spare no effort in treating the injured.

It has also asked Thai police to find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible, according to CNTA head Li Jinzao.

A representative of Apple Tours which chartered the boat, Manassanan Mahima, said each injured victim would be eligible for up to 500,000 baht (S$ 20,700) in compensation from insurance, reported The Nation newspaper.

"We will take care of victims... In the event of death, the compensation is one million baht," she added.

Beach resorts and islands in southern Thailand are major tourist attractions, particularly during the high season from November to March.