At least six people died on Sunday when an overcrowded ferry sank near the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya. Among those killed were two Russians, three Thais and one Chinese person. At least 18 others were seriously injured.
The shuttle ferry, which traveled between Koh Lan Island and Pattaya is reported to have been carrying approximately 200 passengers, despite a capacity limit of 150. According to police reports, resulting from eyewitness accounts, the ferry was not equipped with enough life-jackets and some of the passengers could not swim.
Rescue efforts continued as passengers were helped onto shore in Pattaya, where ambulances and medical staff were at the scene.
Later Sunday evening, the 42-year-old captain of the ferry turned himself into police after admitting to using drugs before going to work. He reportedly confessed to losing control of the vessel as a result. The ferry allegedly wandered off course, hit rocks, breaching the vessel, punching holes and letting water pour in. The captain then turned off all power to try to fix the water pump. He issued no warning to his passengers, supposedly so they would not panic.
A dive team investigated the sunken ferry on Monday, and reported seeing a crack on the vessel’s bow. They found no other bodies. The vessel is scheduled to be salvaged next month.
Thailand’s Marine Department will investigate the cause of the ferry’s capsizing, but an initial investigation suggested the deaths and injuries stemmed from overloading and insufficient safety equipment. The captain’s license has already been revoked.
Poorly enforced maritime safety regulations in Thailand mean that ferry accidents are relatively common.