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Foreign Tham Luang Cave Divers to Lead Search for Bodies Inside Sunken Koh Samui Ferry Monday

Foreign scuba diving instructors from Koh Tao plan Monday's dive plan in Koh Samui on Sunday.
Foreign scuba diving instructors from Koh Tao plan Monday's dive plan in Koh Samui on Sunday.

Foreign scuba divers who participated in the 2018 rescue of 13 young footballers from Chiang Rai’s Tham Luang cave will check the sunken hull of a Koh Samui ferry for four people missing and presumed dead after Saturday night’s accident.

Surat Thani Province public relations department posted on its Facebook page around 7 p.m. Sunday that 10 experienced technical diving instructors from Koh Tao will plunge into the storm-churned waters at 6 a.m. Monday, along with up to eight rescue foundation divers.

The sunken wreckage of the ferry was located Sunday and a buoy placed marking its location. Meanwhile, the entire Ang Thong Islands National Marine Park has been closed from Aug. 2-5 due for safety reasons as Tropical Storm Sinlaku, over Vietnam, continues to dump heavy rain and churn seas in Thailand.

Rescuers have planned as many as 40 dives with each diver going under three times, if necessary, to recover any bodies found inside the sunken ship.

After overnight and daytime searches failed to turn up the missing passengers the mission turned from rescue to recovery. Believed to have gone down with the ferry saleswoman Naparada Chanhan, crewmen Siravut Thongboonyang and Tawakorn Vachararit and garbage truck driver Chaichan Laosap.

Nine people were plucked from the ocean after the ferry went down around 10:30 p.m. Saturday between Koh Si and Koh Hah, about five nautical miles from Koh Samui’s main pier.

Two others were found around noon Sunday Koh Taen about two nautical miles from the accident scene. Crewmembers Pachara Thiprat and Suvit Nakhonsethvorachai said they had floated on a buoy until within sight of the island and then swam ashore early Sunday morning where residents gave them food and water.

Pachara said he’d actually seen a rescue boat Saturday night, but couldn’t get its attention.

Around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, rescuers found the body ferry captain Tewin Surat on Koh Mod Daeng near Koh Taen.

The accident occurred before after Ratcha Ferry No. 4 left the Koh Samui pier for Don Sak District of Surat Thani Province with a load of garbage trucks and drivers – when the captain radioed the pier’s traffic-control center to report that the vessel was listing heavily.

Within minutes, radio contact was lost and the ferry quickly sank before rescuers arrived.