Thirty-three people have died and a further 23 are still missing in waters off the Thai resort island of Phuket after a storm capsized a diving boat packed with tourists, according to local officials.
The search for those still missing will resume at 5am on Saturday, said Prapan Khanprasang, chief of the Phuket provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office.
The boat was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, 11 crew and one tour guide when it toppled in five metre high seas. All of the dead are Chinese nationals, according to authorities.
Another boat also overturned off Phuket on Thursday. Officials said all 42 on board have been rescued.
Thai media showed photos of rescued people in large rubber life rafts at sea, with fishing boats and churning water in the background. The images also showed survivors being lifted from the rafts and sitting in life jackets amid ropes on the deck of what appears to be a fishing trawler.
Phuket officials had earlier issued a warning of severe weather until Tuesday, including heavy rain and winds.
“All agencies are co-operating in their search at this time,” Norraphat said. “We have given warnings … but the winds are strong.”
He said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.
Thai PBS television reported that 12 boats with 263 passengers in all had been forced by the weather to stay docked at Racha island, a popular diving spot about an hour’s boat ride from Phuket.
They said they were providing food, shelter and water to the people, and if the weather did not clear, larger boats belonging to the navy would be sent to retrieve them.