By SALINEE PRAB
Rescuers find body of Israeli girl, as tourists lament loss of passport
PHUKET POLICE have set up a centre to provide assistance to the 100 or so victims of Wednesday’s ferry fire, many of whom lost their passports in the blaze.
The Ao Nang Princess Boat caught fire and sank off Andaman Sea while it was heading back to Phuket province.
One of the passengers, a 12-year-old Israeli girl, was found dead yesterday. The girl had been initially reported missing, but her body was found after rescuers scoured the area.
The centre is based at the Muang Phuket Police Station, with volunteer interpreters on hand to help.
“Most victims are in Phuket for now,” Muang Phuket Police Station’s superintendent Colonel Kraithong Janthongbai said.
The victims hail from different countries, including Britain, Australia, Hungary and China.
Natalie Lee, a 29-year-old Briton, told police she and her husband had to fly back to London on Saturday.
“We’d come here for our honeymoon,” she said, recalling that she and her husband had put on life vests and jumped into the sea to escape the fire.
A Chinese tourist said she had been floating in the water for about half an hour before a boat came by and rescued her.
“I am still scared and want to go home now. I hope I can get a new passport soon,” the 22-year-old said, adding that in reality her holiday is scheduled to finish next week.
Police are now investigating to determine the cause of the fire. The driver and technician of the boat have already provided testimony and do not face any charges for the time being.
“It is unclear whether the accident occurred due to their recklessness or not,” Phuket’s deputy police chief Colonel Boontawee Toraksa said.
According to him, the boat will be salvaged and experts will be recruited to examine its condition.
“We should get clearer information after the examination,” he said.