By Salinee Prab
Phuket Governor Naraphat Plodthong, heading the search and rescue operation, told reporters that six tourists remained unaccounted for, although one body had just been found under the yacht’s hull at the bottom of the Andaman Sea near Koh Hae.
The governor said a more thorough cross-checking of information had revealed there were 89 tourists on board the ill-fated yacht – two Europeans and 87 Chinese.
The yacht capsized near Koh Hae after being struck by giant waves on its way from Koh Racha to a Phuket pier.
Naraphat confirmed that 37 tourists had been rescued and 41 bodies recovered.
Initially, 11 people were listed as missing, but five had been rescued and not reported to the authorities.
The governor said confirmation was awaited as to the identities of the five survivors.
He said the search had not yet begun for the six missing, but meanwhile divers had noticed the body pinned beneath the hull.
Vice Adm Somnuek Prempramote, commander of Naval Area 3, said his men and other divers were preparing to retrieve the trapped body on Monday.
The operation would require the use of sand-injection equipment to raise the boat slightly, he added.
Phuket police chief Pol Maj Gen Thirapol Tipcharoen said all 41 bodies recovered thus far had undergone an official disaster victim identification process.
Relatives of 33 of the 41 victims had identified the dead and were waiting to claim the bodies.