9 die in Thailand ferry disaster

An overcrowded tourist ferry capsized and sank near a popular Thai seaside town today, killing six tourists, including two Russians and a Chinese, police said. The rest of the roughly 200 people aboard were rescued.

The double-decker ferry, carrying Thai and foreign tourists, left Lan island for the 30-minute trip to the resort town of Pattaya, said police Col. Suwan Cheawnavinthavat. Shortly after the boat departed, an engine problem sent the passengers on the first deck rushing to the second floor, causing the ferry to flip on its side and eventually sink.

“Witnesses said there were neither enough tubes nor life vests on the ferry. Some of those who cannot swim had to cling onto coolers or ice containers until rescuers came,” Suwan.

He said three Thais also drowned. The rest of the passengers were rescued, including a nine-year-old Russian boy who was in intensive care at a hospital. None of the others were admitted to hospital.

Suwan said the ferry was operating over its capacity of about 130 to 150 passengers. He said police were looking for the ferry driver to investigate the cause of the accident.

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