KRABI – Thai Divers have found the body of 12-year-old Israeli girl Shani Maril who went missing after a tour boat caught fire in the Adaman Sea off Thailand’s southwestern coast.
The young girl was located 18 meters (59 feet) underwater by scuba divers conducting the search on behalf of the Thai navy, Channel 2 reported. Representatives from the local Chabad house and the Israeli consulate were present at the scene.
Lieutenant General Decha Butnampetch, southern region police commander, told reporters.“Divers found her body at around 11:00 am inside the toilet at the rear of the boat” He added she was the sole fatality from the accident and that her family have been informed.
The victim was in Thailand to celebrate her bat mitzvah with her parents and brother. An Israeli rescue worker present at the scene of the accident told Channel 2 on Wednesday that the girl had died of smoke inhalation. It was unclear whether she drowned or was already dead from suffocation by the time the ship had sunk.
Narong Woonchew, the deputy governor of Krabi province, said police were still investigating the cause of the fire, which engulfed the Ao Nang Princess boat that was carrying about 110 people and traveling from Krabi to Phuket, two of Thailand’s most popular beach resort areas.
Police Col. Sompong Thip-apakul said on Wednesday most of the rescued passengers and crew, totaling about 110, were taken to Krabi, several kilometers from where the fire started.
Photos taken by rescuers, including the Krabi Marine Police, showed the abandoned vessel burning down almost to the waterline before sinking.
Sompong said the investigation of the fire would be difficult because the vessel had sunk.
Thailand’s tourist industry, which welcomes more than 20 million people a year, has suffered a black eye in recent years due to domestic political violence and several high-profile killings and unexplained accidental deaths of Westerners, but serious marine accidents are uncommon.