PHUKET – Eleven crew members from a Bangladeshi cargo ship were missing Thursday after their vessel capsized in the Andaman Sea, sparking a rescue mission, Thai officials said.
The ship, which was heading for Bangladesh’s port of Chittagong, ran into trouble early Thursday in rough seas some 32 kilometres (20 miles) off an island near Phuket in Thailand’s south.
The MV Hope, was in route from Penang to Chittagong in Bangladesh and started taking on water in high seas just after midnight.
The crew sent out an Inmarsat distress signal and abandoned ship.
The Royal Thai Navy subsequently dispatched two ships to search for survivors and when a break in the weather allowed,they launched two helicopters.
Six of the crew were rescued, five of them by a passing ship and the other by a navy helicopter, according to the Royal Thai Navy.
Rear Admiral Prayuth Phutien of the Phuket-based Third Naval Area Command said fears were growing for the 11 missing after several hours without a sighting.
“There were 17 crew in total,” Major Chatchai Sakdee added, revising down early reports of 28 on board and 18 rescued after initial “confusion… from information from different sources”.
“Eleven people are still missing,” said Adm Prayuth, confirming that 17 people were on board the MV Hope when it was overpowered by the heavy seas.
“The weather conditions are not making it easy, but we are continuing to search for them. If we don’t find them today, we’ll start again tomorrow morning,” he said.
“The ship capsized in rough seas — there are five-metre (16 feet) high waves in the Andaman Sea near Phuket now,” he added.