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Specialists Report Says Phoenix Boat Which Sunk and Killed 47 Chinese Tourists Was “Substandard Construction”

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PHUKET  – Police and international specialists have concluded the sunken Phoenix boat was substandard and illegally approved, and many officials and others connected with the July tragedy will lose their jobs, the immigration chief said.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, the immigration police commissioner, said in Phuket on Monday that crime detection police and specialists from China and Germany examined the vessel after it was salvaged.

“Chinese and German specialists agree that the boat was substandard… It was not built at a shipyard but at a machine shop. Police have laid down charges during the interrogation process. Phuket marine officials were prosecuted for dereliction of duty,” he said.

Immigration Police Chief Surachate Hakparn (middle) announces progress in the investigation into the sinking of two tour boats off Phuket in which 45 Chinese tourists drowned.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate said the boat should have had four watertight doors, but it had only one. Its glass windowpanes should have been of marine grade – breakable with a fist – but they were not.

“Many people died inside the boat because they were unable to break through its glass panes,” the immigration chief said.

He also said that the boat’s engine was actually for a Hino truck. The boat was not built with a balanced body and instead used concrete lumps to balance it, Pol Lt Gen Surachate said.

A boat construction project should have 40-50 pages of blueprints, but Phoenix had only 4-5 blueprints, he said.

He assured people that authorities would take legal action against the engineers who accepted the boat design and approved its construction, together with the officials who authorized its construction and permitted its operation in the sea.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate said that he informed the Chinese consul-general that there would be a press conference to close the case next week.

The immigration police chief also said that more Chinese tourists were visiting Thailand thanks to marketing promotions and strict legal measures in response to the Phoenix boat tragedy, which killed 47 Chinese tourists while operating despite a rough sea warning on July 5.

By Achadtaya Chuenniran
The Bangkok Post