15 die, 13 missing in boat accident
DIVERS located the body of a young boy yesterday as they resumed their search for missing passengers after an overcrowded boat carrying Muslim pilgrims sank in Thailand’s Chao Phraya River, leaving at least 15 people dead.
The accident happened on September 18 near the ancient city of Ayutthaya, a popular tourist attraction, when a boat packed with pilgrims returning from a mosque hit a concrete bank in strong currents.
Scores of people lined the bank yesterday as divers plunged into the swollen brown waters for the grim task of searching the partially submerged boat for passengers.
Distraught relatives wept as the body of an eight-year-old boy was pulled from the wreckage and laid in a white plastic sheet, an AFP team on site reported.
Rescuers used a white-board to keep track of those still missing, which by lunchtime stood at 13 named individuals, six of whom were children.
Ayutthaya deputy governor Rewat Prasong said the confirmed death toll stood at 15, with 14 people hospitalised. There were no foreigners among the victims.
The boat’s captain is in custody and faces a negligence charge after allowing the double-decked vessel to become overcrowded with passengers, police told AFP.
“The boat has permission to carry about 50 people but it was carrying more than 100 people,” said Ayutthaya police chief Sudhi Puengpikul.
Television footage showed the boat stopping abruptly as it appeared to hit the concrete bank, and sinking in seconds. –
The body of a woman is recovered by rescue workers from the Chao Praya River in the province of Ayutthaya yesterday.