Thai officials admit sunken Navy vessel had too few life vests on board
Thai Navy officials acknowledged that the HTMS Sukothai had too few life vests on board when it sank in the Gulf of Thailand.
The ship sank with 105 sailors on board Sunday evening, 75 of whom were rescued within hours of the incident. Rescuers recovered one more survivor and five bodies on Tuesday, putting the total of those rescued at 76 while 24 remain unaccounted for.
The survivor picked up on Tuesday, Chananyu Kansriya, was found floating among debris 37 miles from where the ship sank, according to CBS News. Navy officials said Kansriya was in weak condition when he was rescued, but that he received treatment aboard a navy frigate.
The harsh weather that initially caused the Sukothai to sink has persisted and hampered rescue efforts. The Navy says small boats couldn’t operate under the severe conditions. The navy has instead deployed four larger vessels and an assortment of seven aircraft.
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Waves in the gulf were reportedly more than 3 meters high, or roughly 10 feet, when the Sukothai sank. The ship sailed under the conditions despite warnings of poor weather and waves of up to 4 meters
Reports say strong winds and high waves sprayed water onto the deck of the ship, knocking out its electrical system. With the vessel’s power down, sailors were not able to pump water out of the ship, causing it to list aggressively and then sink.
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Commissioned in 1987, the Sukothai had a length of 252 feet and a water displacement of 959 tons. Thai authorities plan to salvage what they can from the ship after concluding rescue efforts.
Officials warned that it was unlikely anyone could survive more than two days on the open water.
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Survivors of the sinking interviewed by local media said there weren’t enough life vests for everyone on board because the vessel was carrying members of the Thai Marin Corps and Coastal Defense Command, according to CBS. The Sukothai’s typical crew includes just 87 people.
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