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Thai sailors missing after navy warship sinks in choppy waters

Thai sailors missing after navy warship sinks in choppy waters


Thirty-one people are missing after a Royal Thai Navy warship sank in choppy waters and heavy winds in the Gulf of Thailand late Sunday, Thai officials said Monday.

Footage shared by the navy’s Twitter account showed a ship loaded with armaments, identified as HTMS Sukhothai, listing heavily as a separate vessel attempted a nighttime rescue effort.

As of Monday, 75 members of the crew of 106 had been rescued, including 11 who were being treated at a hospital, officials said. The navy deployed two helicopters and three military vessels in its emergency response, they added.

The Sukhothai sank at 11:30 p.m. local time Sunday, despite efforts to recover the ship, navy officials said.

The warship had been patrolling an area of the Gulf of Thailand off the Bang Saphan district, in the country’s Prachuap Khiri Khan province, government officials said.

Thailand’s military deployed warships and helicopters on Dec. 19 to locate 33 sailors missing after their ship sank in the Gulf of Thailand, the navy said. (Video: Reuters)

According to navy officials, a storm caused flooding on the ship and disrupted its power supply. “It suffered from high waves due to strong winds that blew seawater onto the electric system and knocked out the system, the large engine stopped working and lost control over the ship. The seawater leaked into the ship very quickly and made the ship lean on one side,” officials said.

Footage posted to the navy’s Twitter account showed sailors stranded on an inflatable raft, wearing life vests and awaiting rescue in the dark waves. Overnight efforts to rescue the dozens of crew members who remained missing were hampered by heavy winds and strong waves, military officials said.

“The waves are still high and we cannot search for them from the horizontal line. We have to fly the helicopters and search for them from a bird’s eye view instead,” Vice Adm. Pokkrong Monthatphalin, a navy spokesman, told Thai PBS, according to the Associated Press.

Videos posted later Monday showed rescued sailors, wrapped in blankets, arriving ashore. According to a statement posted to Twitter, the search operation is set to continue without pause.

The U.S. Navy Institute, an independent media outlet, identified the Sukhothai as a U.S.-manufactured Ratanakosin-class corvette that was commissioned into service by the Royal Thai Navy in 1987.

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