Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Seven dead as boat sinks after Thai beach party


An overcrowded boat carrying revelers from a beach party capsized early yesterday in the Gulf of Thailand, killing at least seven people, including four Western tourists, officials said. Nine others were injured.

The speed boat was traveling from Pha-Ngan Island, which attracts thousands of young foreigners to monthly full moon parties, to the larger island of Samui.

Seventeen people were reported missing, including three Swedes, two Hungarians, a Norwegian, an Austrian, a Swiss, a German and a Briton, said a police officer.

The dead were identified as an American man in his 30s, two other Western men, a Western woman, and three Thais, he said. The US embassy in Bangkok declined to confirm an American had died, but said it was sending to two consular officers to Samui.

Some Israeli survivors confirmed that a dead woman was an Israeli, but did not know her name, said police Lieutenant Colonel Veerayuth Hiran, chief of the tourist police for Samui.

One of the dead men was believed to be an American because of a credit card found on his body, he added. The bodies of two other people, believed to be 30 to 35 years old, did not carry any identifying documents, he said.

Somphong said about four people were missing, including the boat's skipper.

Somphong said the vessel was designed to carry about 25 passengers, but according to survivors was traveling with at least 40, most of them drunk. He said the boat capsized about 5km from Samui's pier.

An injured Thai survivor said the boat was so crowded passengers had to stand on board.

"There was no space for me to sit and no one was offered a life vest," said Intat Haechoo, a 28-year-old from northern Thailand.

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