Six bodies found during search for missing marines from sunken Thai warship | Thailand

Six bodies found during search for missing marines from sunken Thai warship | Thailand

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Thailand’s navy has recovered the bodies of six marines after a small warship sank in the Gulf of Thailand. One Marine was rescued alive Monday as the military mobilized helicopters, warships and drones off its central coast.

Twenty-three people remain missing after HTMS Sukhothai was toppled by four-metre waves and strong winds late on Sunday. Some were without life jackets.

“The last person was found 41 hours after the ship sank and he was alive. So we believe there are still some alive there… we will continue to search,” said Admiral Chonlatis Navanugraha, Chief of Naval Staff.

Helicopters, two surveillance drones, four warships and a C130 transport plane were dispatched to find the Marines when the weather improved.

The vessel suffered engine failure as it took on water and sank about 20 nautical miles from the Bang Saphan area. The US-built corvette had been in service since 1987 and carried 105 servicemen.

Map of the Gulf of Thailand

Most on board were rescued before the boat sank, but dozens had to leave the ship with rafts and life jackets.

Lt. Col. Picchitchai Tuannadee, captain of the sunken vessel, said he was at sea for two hours before he boarded a raft and was found by search teams on Monday.

“Seeing something as small as a life ring or a person’s head above the surface of the water is very difficult to see in the big waves,” he said, adding that the missing sailors were probably already tired of having to tread water and make sure , that those without vests remained afloat.

One of the Marines was found late Monday clinging to a buoy.

“He was floating in the water for 10 hours. He was still conscious, so we were able to get him out of the water safely,” said the commander of one of the search vessels.

Relatives of the missing gathered at rescue centers awaiting news of loved ones.

Malini Pudfong, the aunt of missing Marine Saharat Essa, said she spoke to her nephew on the phone before the boat sank and was shocked to hear he had not received a life jacket.

“This is the body of a 21-year-old,” she said. “He’s not strong enough.”

Navy chief Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said the sinking would be investigated, including reports that there were not enough life jackets on board.

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