World

Huge wave flips speedboat

Three tourists killed in Koh Samui accident

Three foreign women were killed and another tourist remains missing after a packed speedboat capsized off the Thai resort island of Koh Samui, police said yesterday.

The boat, which was carrying 32 tourists and four crew, flipped over on Thursday afternoon, tossing its passengers into the sea, after a wave slammed into it near a rocky stretch of coast 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, according to local officials.

The body of a third tourist was discovered yesterday morning.

"It was a Hong Kong woman in her 30s. Her body was found at 10.30am some 500m from the accident site," Mr Thanakorn Pattananun, the head of the island's tourist police, told AFP.

Fifty rescue workers in seven boats were scouring the area for a British man who is still missing, he said.

CHARGED

Police have charged the Thai captain of the Ang Thong Explorer speedboat with negligence that led to deaths and injuries, a crime that carries up to 10 years in prison.

"Weather was the cause of the accident because it created high waves, but the boat was also being driven at a high speed," Mr Apichart Boonsriro, the commander of Surat Thani provincial police, told AFP.

The speedboat was returning to Koh Samui after a trip to a string of nearby islands and was only a few metres from a pier when it capsized, trapping some passengers under its hull.

Only one of the deceased was found wearing a life jacket, said Surat Thani governor Wongsiri Phromchana, who has called on authorities to "strictly" enforce laws that require boat passengers to wear life vests.

This regulation is rarely respected on the notoriously reckless speedboats that ferry tourists around Thailand's famed beaches and often lack an adequate supply of life vests.

"If tourists refuse to wear (life vests) then the crew should not allow them onto the boat," said the governor.

Three passengers - from the UK, Australia and Romania - have been hospitalised on the island for injuries sustained during the accident, said staff at Koh Samui Hospital.

On Thursday, UK's Foreign Office confirmed the death of a British woman and said it was assisting her family.

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