Chaos at Sea: Speedboat Smashes into Channel Marker
On the evening of May 17, 2023, at approximately 18:00 local time, a disastrous speedboat collision occurred off the coast of Phuket, Thailand. The boat, a speedboat named ‘Thanathip Marine 555’ with the registration number 605102138, was returning tourists from Phi Phi Island to Chalong Pier when it struck a safe channel marker located about 700 meters from the pier. This accident report was provided by the Phuket Port Authority Branch Office, which is responsible for managing operations at Chalong Pier.
There were 36 people on board the speedboat at the time of the incident, including the captain and crew, the majority of whom were Russian tourists. Two of the people suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg (the captain) and a head injury (one crew member). Additionally, around five individuals experienced chest tightness. According to the Phuket Info Center, eight more sustained ‘code yellow’ injuries.
The Port Authority Branch Office in Phuket immediately issued an order banning the use of the speedboat and began an investigation into the incident. They will be taking statements from the boat owner and the crew members who were involved in the incident to determine the cause of the accident and take appropriate legal action.
Hospitals Flooded: Injured Tourists from Across the Globe
Following the incident, all 35 injured individuals were promptly aided and transported to various hospitals for treatment in Phuket. The victims included 4 Thais, 21 Russians, 9 Kazakhs, 1 Hong Kong resident, and 1 Chinese. Their injuries ranged from minor to severe, with 2 being in critical condition and 13 being less serious. There were also two uninjured tourists, one Thai and one Kazakh.
The injured individuals were distributed among the hospitals as follows: 10 to Vachira Phuket Hospital, 9 to Chalong Hospital, 2 to Dibuk Hospital, 5 to Siriroj Hospital, 2 to Bangkok Hospital, 2 to Phuket Provincial Hospital, and 5 to Mission Hospital. Thankfully, there were no fatalities or missing persons reported.
The boat was insured, covering up to 15,000 baht per person for medical treatment. Local officials and interpreters have been dispatched to facilitate and assist the victims. They are also coordinating with the consulates of the countries whose nationals were affected to ensure they are informed and able to provide support.
Who’s to Blame? Investigation Digs Deep into Speedboat Collision
An investigation into the incident is currently underway, including an examination of the boat driver’s negligence. The Phuket Provincial Police are conducting the investigation, and the test results are expected to be used as part of the evidence in the ongoing legal proceedings.
Phuket’s Dark Waters: A Look Back at Maritime Mishaps
Regrettably, this is not the first boat accident in the region. In recent years, Phuket has seen a number of boat accidents, including the tragic Phoenix boat incident in 2018 that claimed 47 lives, primarily Chinese tourists. Another incident in 2019 involved two speedboats colliding near the Phi Phi islands, resulting in two fatalities and numerous injuries.
Safety at Sea: A Wake-Up Call for Phuket’s Boating Industry
These incidents have led to calls for increased safety measures for boat travel in and around Phuket. This includes stricter enforcement of safety regulations, better training for all individuals involved in maritime tourism, and an emphasis on the importance of maintaining safe operating conditions for all vessels.
The latest accident serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with boat travel and the urgent need for continued efforts to ensure the safety of all passengers. As the investigation into this incident continues, local and national authorities, as well as the tourism industry, must make safety their top priority.