1 Dead, 4 Still Missing in Samui Ferry Sinking

Passengers escape the Raja 4 as it is about to sink on Aug. 1 off of Koh Samui. Photo: JS100

KOH SAMUI — As of Monday rescue workers are still searching for four missing people from a ferry that sank off the coast of Koh Samui that left one dead and four missing. 

Investigators have yet to say why “Raja 4” sank on Saturday night, and police said no one has filed a complaint against the ferry company, Racha Ferry, which is also responsible for the major routes connecting the popular tourist island with the mainland. 

“We’re focusing on looking for people right now,” Police Col. Pongkajorn Sukkasung of Koh Samui police said. “If [the ferry company] was negligent, then prosecuting them for wrongdoing is the easy part.”

Pongkajorn said police, marine police, the navy, and volunteers from the private sector were out Monday looking for the missing. Police are also still investigating if the boat company failed to follow safety regulations.

“This rarely ever happens, and if it does it’s in high wave season,” Senior Sgt. Maj. Sumneang Sungleung of Samui Marine Police said by phone Monday. “If you have to go on a boat at this time, always wear life jackets.” 

A ferry sank around 10:30pm after setting off from the island, carrying 12 crew members and four passengers as well as three 18-wheeler trucks carrying compressed trash. 

About five nautical miles out to see, the ferry ran into high waves and capsized. Two other nearby ferries came to the rescue and were able to rescue nine people. 

Initially seven people were missing but two more were found on Koh Taen, Patchara Thiparat and Suwit Norasetworachai. A dead man from the boat was also found near Koh Taen, Tewin Surat, a sailor on the boat.

Patchara Thiparat, one of the two found near the deserted island, said when everyone on the ferry realized what was going to happen, they put on lifejackets. But he got separated from the rest of the group because he was on the other side of the boat when it was sinking.

“The water [current] was very strong. It swept me away from the ship very quickly. Later I saw the island and then tried to swim toward it,” Patchara said.

Additional reporting: Associated Press

Passengers rescued from the Raja 4 on Aug. 1, 2020. Photo: JS100
Marine police search for the Raja 4’s missing passengers on Aug. 2, 2020.
Marine police search for the Raja 4’s missing passengers on Aug. 2, 2020.