|Thai skipper of sunken tourist ferry on the run, police say boat was overloaded
The Thai skipper of the overloaded tourist ferry that sank Sunday in Pattaya killing six people, has fled, police said today.
Among those who drowned was a man from Hong Kong.
Police said the "captain ran away,'' adding that arrest warrant will be issued.
The double-decker ferry went down on Sunday afternoon near Koh Larn, a small island popular with day-trippers from Pattaya, a popular beach resort renowned for its nightclubs, strip joints and and brothels.
Thai divers have begun a search for the wreck, AFP reports.
"We still don't know the reason for the accident. I am not sure if there are more dead or not, because we don't know how many people were on the boat,'' Thai rescue diver Suttipong Boonmachai said. "Today we are going to recover the boat.''
On Pattaya's main pier it was business as usual today for the operators of double-decker wooden ferries preparing to take tourists out on day cruises.
"After an accident like this the boats should be grounded for checks but today they are all running,'' said a European working in the city's marine tourism industry who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The boats are very old. There's no maintenance. They are always overcrowded... there's no head count.''
Local media reports cited polic as saying the ferry had exceeded its capacity of about 130 to 150 passengers.