Thailand retrieves final body in boating disaster off Phuket

A boat carrying divers leaves Chalong pier on July 7, as rescue operations continue for missing tourists following a boat accident in Phuket, on July 5, 2018.

PHUKET (AFP) - Thailand has recovered the last body after a boating accident killed dozens of Chinese tourists this month off the southern resort island of Phuket.

The Phoenix was carrying 105 people - mostly Chinese - when it sank on the way back from a popular snorkelling spot on July 5.

Divers and the navy spent more than a week retrieving bodies, some from inside the boat, as outraged relatives waited for news.

Phuket's public relations department said in a statement late on Sunday (July 15) that the "last body of the dead from the Phoenix boat accident" was recovered that night.

"All missing found," the statement added, putting the final death toll at 47.

A minute's silence was held for the victims at a ceremony attended by the Chinese ambassador.

The Phoenix was among three vessels which ignored a bad weather warning against day trips to the islands around Phuket.

The disaster was one of the worst boating accidents in recent history in Thailand, which has a poor safety record despite being heavily reliant on tourism.

But it received little international attention compared to the dramatic rescue of 12 children and their football coach from a cave in northern Thailand.

The country last year received 35 million tourists of whom nearly 10 million were from China, government statistics show.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.