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Navy Believes 18 Missing Sailors are Dead as Warship’s Safety Questioned

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Navy Believes 18 Missing Sailors are Dead

Although the search for survivors of the sunken Thai Navy warship HTMS Sukhothai is still ongoing, the missing men are presumed dead.

On Friday, one life jacket bearing the name of a deceased sailor, Jakpong Poonpon, was discovered on an island 112 kilometers away from the sinking. The life jacket would be returned to his family, according to naval officials.

Vice Adm Pichai Lorchusakul, commander of the 1st Naval Area Command, told reporters that those missing were unlikely to survive more than two days at sea.

As the prospect of finding survivors fades, attention is turning to how the accident occurred and whether adequate safety precautions were in place.

Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengphaet, the commander in chief of the Royal Thai Navy, said on Tuesday that the vessel sank about 22 miles (35 kilometers) off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, leaving 30 sailors without life jackets.

When the ship ran into trouble, “they tried to use other tools, which could save the lives of officers who didn’t have life jackets,” he said.

He claimed that there were extra officers on the ship saluting the founder of the Thai navy, and that extra life jackets would normally have been provided.

However, he added that “a life jacket does not guarantee survival,” despite the fact that all of the sailors had received survival training.

The Royal Thai Navy’s commander in chief dismissed suggestions that the ship’s age played a role in the accident. He said the ship had undergone major repairs three years ago and that its equipment was fully functional, and that there were no plans to retire it for another five to ten years.

Navy Believes 18 Missing Sailors are Dead

According to authorities, the navy ship sank after water entered the electrical system via an exhaust pipe, short-circuiting the ship’s controls and water pump system.

After the sixth day of search operations in the Gulf of Thailand, eighteen sailors remain missing from the doomed HTMS Sukhothai, amid confusion over the number of bodies recovered and identified so far.

The navy announced late Saturday that six more bodies had been recovered during the day, bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 11 since the search began. Six of the 11 have been positively identified as crew members from the corvette that went down last Sunday. The other five are still unidentified.

According to Royal Thai Navy spokesman Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin, all remains are being sent to the Police General Hospital for autopsy and identification before their relatives are formally notified.

Confusion over body counts had led to earlier reports that the total number of bodies recovered since Monday could be as high as 14. One of the bodies recovered was not thought to be from the naval vessel, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Navy Believes 18 Missing Sailors are Dead

The six bodies discovered on Saturday were all discovered off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Bang Saphan district, where the ship sank.

One body was discovered by HTMS Taksin and recovered by HTMS Kraburi, another was discovered by patrol ship 113 and recovered by HTMS Kraburi, and another was discovered by an aircraft and recovered by HTMS Taksin.

The navy and other agencies’ air and sea searches would continue on Sunday, according to Adm Pokkrong. Divers were also on the scene where the HTMS Sukhothai went down.

He stated that divers from the HTMS Kraburi were searching for missing crew members who might be trapped inside the sunken ship and would survey the ship prior to a salvage operation. Strong undersea currents, on the other hand, are impeding dive operations, he added.

The HTMS Sukhothai capsized on Sunday night after taking on water while patrolling in rough seas off Bang Saphan.

At the start of the search, 76 sailors were rescued alive, while 29 were reported missing.

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