Rescue underway after Thai warship capsizes with 106 on board
Thailand has deployed multiple helicopters and warships to locate 31 marines who are missing after their ship sank overnight during a storm in the Gulf of Thailand.
The corvette HTMS Sukhothai reportedly suffered an engine malfunction and started sinking in heavy weather shortly before midnight on Sunday (18 December 2022), around 20 nautical miles off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, south of Bangkok.
The navy says that the rescue mission has located and safely recovered 75 of the 106 people who were aboard. The search now continues for the remaining 31, who were forced to abandon ship. A total of 11 troops are being treated at Bang Saphan Hospital in Prachuap Province.
The official Twitter account of the Royal Thai Navy has shared footage taken from aboard the vessel during the incident.
In one video (screenshot left), groups of people in orange lifejackets sitting inside an evacuation raft, amid heavy swell.
In another video (below), the ship can be seen listing heavily to one side in strong winds.
It is not currently known how many rescue rafts were deployed.
Three naval ships and helicopters were sent to assist after the vessel encountered difficulties, but only one — HTMS Kraburi — managed to reach the ship before it sank. The frigate picked up most of the Sukhothai’s crew, with sailors wearing life jackets found in the water and in life rafts.
On Monday, Thailand‘s Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-Cha, released a statement confirming officials were investigating the disaster.
“I am following the news closely — about five people are seriously injured,” he said.
Officials told the BBC that the ship went down after it took on water, which flooded its hull and short-circuited its power room. The crew attempted to retain control of the ship without power, but it listed onto its side before sinking around 11.30pm local time on Sunday.
The HTMS Sukhothai was built for the Thai Navy in the USA in the mid-1980s.