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10 July 2018, 04:19 | Erica Roy
The death toll from a tourist boat accident off the coast of Thailand'sPhuket island climbed to 41 on Saturday with 15 people still missing, officials said.
Numerous survivors from the boat were rescued by nearby fishermen and transferred to the main island.
Thailand's navy said Friday afternoon that nine bodies of Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket.
Divers who entered the wreck of the tour boat Friday described heart-breaking scenes of bodies of children found in the arms of their mothers.
Visitors to Thailand from China totalled more than 9.8 million people in 2017, constituting the largest share by country of a record 35.38 million foreign tourists in all.
Thai officials from the navy, marine police and rescue workers transport the body of a tourist after a boat sank, as search and rescue operations continue in the seas off Phuket island, southern Thailand, on July 6, 2018. Chinese tourists are a key driver of the industry, accounting for 9.8 million of the record 35.38 million tourists to visit the country past year.
Television broadcast images of dozens of divers searching for the missing, while more rescuers waited on standby at a pier nearby.
The Phoenix capsized and sank in rough seas when it was toppled by 5m high waves on Thursday with 105 passengers on board, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew and tourist guides.
Some 48 people - passengers and crew - were rescued and one body found Thursday before the operation was suspended overnight.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is due to visit Phuket on Monday morning before heading to Chiang Rai in the north, the scene of another incident involving a group of boys trapped inside a cave which has put Thailand in the global spotlight.
The government will "exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event", he said in a statement.
Police have said they may file negligence charges soon against the captain of the boat.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all-out search and rescue efforts, telling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese diplomats in Thailand to take greater measures, and also urging Thai authorities to spare no efforts.
Lyu said it hoped the cause of the capsizing would be quickly ascertained and asked Somkid to have the relevant Thai agencies closely cooperate with China on the matter.
Thai officials were rushing to cope with some of the logistics of the aftermath of the sinking.
The government of the eastern Chinese city of Haining in Zhejiang province also said on its official microblog account that it received a distress alert sent by phone text message from the head of the Haining Haipai Furniture. Ltd., from Thailand Friday morning.
"It's hard... it's traumatic... as you can imagine when you find dead bodies, children, kids, in the arms of the mother in the wreck", said Philippe Entremont, the manager of a Phuket dive shop who was helping coordinate the underwater search. The group had booked their tours to the islands online on their own, said the posting. The Phuket Newsreported all 39 people on board another vessel that sunk were rescued, and two Russians involved in a water scooter accident were reported safe.
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