Sunday 2, April 2023

3 sailors from capsized Thai navy ship found alive

Time International Desk: Three sailors from the capsized Thai navy ship HTMS Sukhothai have been found alive early Tuesday morning, according to a Twitter post by media outlet Khaosod English.

Rescuers in helicopters scoured the Gulf of Thailand on Tuesday for dozens of sailors who went missing when their naval vessel sank, hoping that life jackets had helped them survive two nights in the choppy waters.

Seventy-six sailors from the HTMS Sukhothai were hauled from the sea after the vessel went down late Sunday in the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 37km off the South-east Asian country's southeastern coast.

Thai warship the HTMS Kraburi left port to resume the search early Tuesday, scanning the turbulent waters for 30 missing sailors alongside other naval vessels and two Seahawk helicopters.

"I am hopeful we will find some survivors, because they have life vests," said naval officer Narong Khumburi. "But I imagine they must be exhausted."

Efforts to find the missing crew were focused on aerial searches, with the Royal Thai air force assisting the operation.

HTMS Kraburi commander Kraiwit Kornraweeprapapitch said slightly improved weather would help the search.

"The format of searching is still the same, which is a joint operation with helicopters," he said.

His ship and 176-strong crew will join the HTMS Angthong, HTMS Naresuan and HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej in scanning an area roughly 50km by 50km stretching from Prachuab to upper Chumporn.

"Now, we are just surveying the situation using the helicopter," naval diver Prawit Gongnak told AFP at the pier in Prachuap Khiri Khan town.

Mr Prawit, who was monitoring the bright if blustery weather conditions, said he was among 29 divers on standby.

"We haven't been commanded to dive yet," he added.

Member of the National Institute for Emergency Medicine Sahachart Limcharoenphakdee said they were working with naval personnel to help those plucked from the waters.

"I am hopeful, and trust the navy rescue team who are skilful," he said.

On Monday night, naval commander Pichai Lorchusakul told reporters at the pier that they remained focused on finding survivors.

"Our main priority is searching (for) and rescuing as many as we can," he said.

He added that this was the first time that the Thai navy had lost a ship this way.

The vessel a corvette, the smallest type of military warship is believed to have run into trouble after its electronics system was damaged, according to the navy.

"The ship's operating systems stopped working, causing the ship to lose control," a spokesman said.

Parts of southern Thailand have been hit by storms and flooding in recent days.

A warning from the Thai meteorological office remained in place on Tuesday, with strong winds causing rough conditions in the Gulf of Thailand, cautioning seafarers to proceed with caution and small boats to stay ashore.

The HTMS Sukhothai was commissioned in 1987 and built in the United States by the now-defunct Tacoma Boatbuilding Company, according to the US Naval Institute.

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