Monday saw much activity surrounding the Pattaya Ferry Disaster which occurred on Sunday which resulted in the death of 6 and injuries sustained to over 100 passengers of which 16 are thought to be in a serious condition.
The search for those who are thought to be missing continued throughout Monday as 20 members of the 626 Royal Thai Navy Search and Rescue Unit continued their search for more bodies and also dived down to the sunken boat to see if any bodies remained there. No bodies were found but a large hole in the rear of the boat was seen which seemed to suggest that the boat may have collided with another object prior to it sinking.
A partial list of those who perished in the ferry disaster was issued with two of the foreign nationals who died yet to be officially identified although the Russian Embassy in Bangkok confirmed that one Russian female had died. The list confirmed the death of three Thai nationals: Khun Natawadee aged 44, Khun Ali aged 67 and Khun Choochart aged 52, a Hong Kong National Mr. To Kin Man aged 48 and two unnamed “Europeans” aged 60 and 45 also perished in the disaster.
An early morning meeting chaired by the Governor of Chonburi Province was held at Pattaya City Hall and was attended by local police and government agencies involved in the Ferry Disaster. It was concluded that a lack of regulation on passenger ferries was caused by a focus on speedboat and Jet Ski issues which distracted marine department officials from the lack of regulation of these ferries. The Governor demanded an immediate implementation of strict regulations for all marine vessels which operate in Pattaya Bay and strict enforcement for those who disobey the regulations.
At 11.30am on Monday, the Ferry Captain Khun Saman aged 42, gave himself up to Pattaya Police and claimed he was drinking prior to the disaster which saw his boat hit rocks as it left Nuan Beach on Larn Island. Survivors reported shouting at the Boat Captain to stop the boat as water was coming on-board fast, but the Captain initially refused to stop until it was too late. Passengers panicked as the boat began to sink and made their way to the upper-deck which caused the boat to become unstable.
Police decided to conduct a urine test on the Captain who was found to have recently consumed methamphetamine, despite earlier claims he had not taken drugs.
At a press conference led by Police General Wutti, Senior Adviser to the National Police Commissioner, it was confirmed that the Captain would be charged with multiple offences relating to negligence causing multiple deaths and injuries to his passengers.
Later in the day, the Deputy Prime Minister Khun Yukon chaired a meeting at Pattaya City Hall where he was briefed on the current situation. He was told that poor enforcement of marine regulations was ultimately to blame for the disaster as the overloaded ferry should not have been allowed to sail. He later visited a selection of survivors at the Pattaya Memorial Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and assured patients that every effort is being made to ensure that a similar disaster at sea will not occur.
The AIG New Hampshire Insurance Company confirmed on Monday that the Ferry was fully insured. 300,000 Baht will be paid to the families of the deceased victims and 100,000 Baht payments will be made to those who were injured. All medical expenses for those currently in Hospital will also be completely covered.
Local Government Officials have concluded that the short term effect on Tourism will be significant as Pattaya moves into the High Season months but long-term they expect to restore confidence in Pattaya and its marine activities. Some believe the disaster was waiting to happen and will not change anything. The City will undoubtedly be watched closely over the coming months to see if strict regulations are enforced or not.