The death toll in the sinking of a Thai navy ship rises to 18
The Thai navy said on Sunday that the death toll from the sinking of one of its warships earlier this week had risen to 18.
The HTMS Sukhothai sank in inclement weather early Monday, leaving dozens of crew members missing in stormy waters in the Gulf of Thailand.
Eleven officers are still missing, the Royal Thai Navy said in an update on Sunday. Of the 105 people on board at the time of the disaster, 76 were rescued.
At the time of the sinking, the ship was carrying 30 more people than usual and there were not enough life jackets for all of them, Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Cherngchai Chomcherngpat said on Tuesday.
Mr. Cherngchai said additional officers were on board because the ship was participating in a ceremony to welcome the founder of the Thai navy. The crew, Cherngchai added, were “fully aware of the problem of not having enough life jackets for the 30 additional officers. They tried to use other tools that could have saved the lives of the officers who didn’t have life jackets.” .
Some people without life jackets tried to escape on inflatable rafts, some were stored on board the HTMS Sukhothai and some were dropped off by rescue helicopters and other vessels.
“Having or not having a life jacket (it) has no effect on survival rates,” the admiral said.
He said the ship sank after seawater entered and disabled its electrical system.
At the time, the waves were 3 to 4 meters (10 feet to 13 feet) high and the water temperature was about 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit).
Cherngchai said water entered the forward section of the 252-foot (76.8-meter) warship around 8:45 p.m. Sunday.
Flooding continued for more than three hours, eventually disabling the ship’s engines and electrical systems and crippling efforts to pump water out.
Helicopter rescue crews attempted to lower the ship’s water pump, but the effort was thwarted when the ship began to tilt heavily.
The admiral dismissed the suggestion that the nearly 40-year-old vessel might not be in a good condition to handle the high seas, saying it had been upgraded several times in recent years.