Dozens Missing After Boat Capsizes off Southern Coast of Thailand

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Dozens of people are reported missing after a tourist boat capsized on rough seas late Thursday off the southern coast of Thailand, according to authorities.

The boat, carrying mostly Chinese tourists, overturned off the tourist island of Phuket and officials say the search for missing passengers has been suspended for now.

There are 53 people missing, the provincial governor, Norraphat Plodthong, told reporters. We have stopped the rescue ... we'll start again in the morning. Reports also cited him as saying 48 people were rescued.

Boat captain Phoenix Somjing Boontham said debris got into the drainage engine after the first wave pounded the boat and that the system was not fast enough to keep the boat steady. Then more waves hit rapidly, the boat leaned to one side and then it capsized, the captain added.

A second boat capsized earlier in the day off the island's coast but officials said the 39 Chinese and European tourists on board that vessel were rescued.

Severe weather in the area is expected until next Tuesday and Governor Norraphat said Phuket officials have alerted the public about the storms.

Phuket is a popular attraction for foreign tourists. Thirty-five million tourists are expected to visit Thailand this year.

Source: Voice of America