BANGKOK – More than 100 people, including many foreign tourists, were rescued Wednesday from a tour boat that caught fire in the Andaman Sea off Thailand’s southwestern coast.
Police Col. Sompong Thip-apakul said the accident occurred on the Ao Nang Princess 5 ferry travelling from Krabi to Phuket, two of Thailand’s most popular beach resort areas.
He said a 12-year-old Western child was missing but was thought to have been picked up by another boat that was going to Phuket.
Most of the rescued passengers and crew, totalling about 110, were taken to Krabi, several miles (kilometres) from where the fire occurred.
Photos taken by rescuers, including the Krabi Marine Police, showed the abandoned vessel burning down almost to the waterline before sinking.
Sompong said police were investigating the cause of the blaze, but the task would be difficult because the vessel had sunk.
Thailand’s tourist industry, which welcomes more than 20 million people a year, has suffered a black eye in recent years due to domestic political violence and several high-profile killings and unexplained accidental deaths of Westerners, but serious marine accidents are uncommon.