Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thailand: Update--"Captain" of Ferry Resulting in Six Deaths Occurred Because Pilot on Drugs, Vessel Sank, Insufficent Lifejackets

As a follow-up to  my posting of November 4, "Thailand: Three Thais, Two Russians and One Chinese National Killed While Traveling on Overcrowded Ferry," and according to The Maritime Executive, at least six people died on Sunday (November 3) when an overcrowded ferry sank near the Thai seaside resort of Pattaya. 

Among those killed were two Russians, three Thais and one Chinese national. At least 18 others were seriously injured.

The ferry, which traveled between Koh Lan Island and Pattaya is reported to have been carrying approximately 200 passengers, despite a capacity limit of 150. 

Apart from the "captain" being severely impaired and impotent to perform his duties, eyewitness accounts also "flag" the fact that the ferry was NOT equipped with an adequate number of life-jackets.

COMMENT: Later Sunday evening, the 42-year-old "captain" of the commuter 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, opening up holes in the hull, causing water to rush in, resulting in passengers scrambling up to the upper deck, causing the ferry to shift onto its side and ultimately sinking.

The "captain" issued no warning to his passengers, supposedly so they would not panic.

A dive team investigated the sunken ferry on Monday (November 4) 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 The captain’s license has already been revoked.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 a frequent occurrence in the Land of Smiles.

Needless to say, tourists and residents alike should critically scrutinize all modes of transportation (e.g., bus, ferry, taxi, speedboat, truck, etc.) for signs of overcrowding, maintenance problems, operator competency, etc. 

If in doubt, don't board such modes of transportation and seek a safer way of getting from Point A to Point B.