PHUKET, Thailand - Thai officials said on Tuesday that they plan to salvage the sunken tourist boat Phoenix before Aug 12, if weather condition is good, while the investigation into the tragedy which happened on July 5 is underway.
Phuket Marine Office Chief Wiwat Chitcherdwong said at a press conference held in the provincial government of Phuket that the boat's company refused to salvage it so the marine department has to do it since Aug 2.
"All necessary equipments are stalled underwater now and we are preparing to salvage the boat before Aug 12," Wiwat said, adding that the boat will be taken to a pier to be checked by authorities.
Two tourist boats, Phoenix and Serenata, carrying a total of 122 Chinese tourists, were overturned in rough seas on July 5. All 35 Chinese passengers on board Serenata were rescued while 47 out of 87 Chinese passengers on board Phoenix were killed.
Serenata has already been salvaged, according to Phuket Police Commander Teerapol Thipjaroen while the police are waiting for Phoenix to be salvaged.
The provincial police commander said told press that after Serenata was salvaged, experts were sent to check it and they found defects out of ill maintenance.
Teerapol said so they charged captain and manager of the company who owns the boat and prosecutors will file charges against the two to a local court on Tuesday.
As regards Phoenix, Teerapol said on July 5, some boats chose to come back earlier, some boats chose to wait for the storm to pass and some were sailing and were not overturned when Phoenix suffered.
"So, the Phoenix overturn has something to do with boat's condition, and the captain, etc, we will investigate all aspects," he said.
Phuket governor Norapat Plodthong and Chief of the Phuket Provincial Office of Tourism and Sports, Sirawee Waloh said that families of 33 victims have got compensation of 1.1 million baht ($33,102) per victim from two insurance companies while families of 30 victims have got 1 million baht per victim compensation from Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
They both said they are working to pay families of all victims as soon as they submit required documents.
Norapat also mentioned that Phuket Province along with other parts have worked a lot to step up its security measures such as installing CCTV in main ports of Phuket, arranging authorities to check every boat before they depart, and establishing 24-hour Marin Monitoring and Rescue Center in Chalong Bay Pier.
Sirawee Waloh told Xinhua that everyone in Phuket felt so sorry about the tragedy and now they are working hard to make traveling safer to win back Chinese tourists' hearts.