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Operation underway to retrieve last Phoenix victim

Thai and Chinese divers joined forces on Thursday morning to retrieve the last of the bodies from the July 4 Phoenix tour-boat tragedy off Koh He in Phuket.


It was confirmed on Thursday that there were 89 passengers aboard the Phoenix, mostly Chinese tourists, and 14 crewmembers.

Forty-two passengers and 14 crew survived and 47 passengers died.

More than a dozen had been listed as missing until the Thai-Chinese search operation discovered their bodies.

The final body was found inside the sunken vessel and was being retrieved on Thursday in a mission that began at 5.45am.

Three Thai patrol vessels under the command of deputy chief of staff Capt Thanin Thipso transported Navy divers, Kusoldham Phuket Foundation rescuers and members of China’s Guangzhou Salvage team to the location.

Strong winds, drizzling rain and waves up to three metres high forced a careful assessment of the situation before the operation could begin.

Thanin said Thai Navy divers equipped with special full-head gear would do most of the work, diving in pairs for 20-minute sessions.

They would survey the scene and clear sand from around the boat, he said, and then the Chinese divers, carrying a waterproof body bag, would retrieve the body.

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