Two speedboats packed with 62 tourists crashed Wednesday off the coast of southern Thailand, leaving at least two dead and 36 injured …

Wednesday’s crash was the latest incident to mar the country’s image as a tourist paradise, and the third crash in two weeks involving boats that shuttle vacationers to Thailand’s resort islands – often at high speed.

Boats filled to capacity

The collision involved two boats that were “filled to capacity” with mostly Chinese and Korean tourists on a morning trip from the popular island of Phuket to smaller islands nearby, the Phuket City Hall said in a statement.

Police said they were investigating how the two boats crashed in broad daylight and suspected that speed was a factor.

Going too fast

“It had to be that they were going too fast, that’s why there was an accident,” said Lt. Col. Prasert Srikhunrat, deputy superintendent of Phuket’s marine police. He said there was light rain, which decreased visibility but he did not believe weather was entirely to blame.
“Luckily everyone was wearing life vests, or the number of fatalities would have been higher,” he said.

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One of the boats was carrying 26 passengers and the other had 36 people on board, including the two who died, he said. They were identified as a Chinese man and woman.

People rescued from water

Boat, tour bus crashes and other accidents involving tourists have become common

Marine police boats rescued people, many from the water, in an operation that took about 90 minutes, he said. The larger of the two boats sunk and the other boat was towed to shore, where paramedics treated the injured and carried some away on stretchers.

Tourism is key for Thailand

Tourism is a key source of revenue for Thailand, which received nearly 30 million foreign visitors in 2015.

Boat, tour bus crashes and other accidents involving tourists have become common, as the numbers of visitors increase annually in Thailand, which is known for its lax enforcement of laws and safety regulations.

Other recent tourist boat accidents

On Sunday, a speedboat near the resort island of Koh Samet rammed into an anchored boat, injuring 30 people on board, according to Thai news reports.

In late May, another speedboat carrying 32 tourists capsized in rough waters off Koh Samui, leaving three tourists dead. The victims were from Britain, Germany and Hong Kong.

In February, two Russian tourists were badly injured while scuba diving off Phi Phi island in Krabi province, when a speedboat’s propeller severed one of the men’s legs and cut deep gashes into the other man’s leg.

A 52-year-old French woman died after being struck by a boat while swimming in waters reserved for snorkellers near an island off Krabi province.

In this image made from video, a passenger is assisted from a police rescue boat at a pier in Phuket, Thailand, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Police say two speedboats carrying 62 tourists have collided off the coast of southern Thailand, leaving a number injured. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video, a passenger is assisted from a police rescue boat at a pier in Phuket, Thailand, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Police say two speedboats carrying 62 tourists collided off the coast of southern Thailand, leaving a number injured. (AP Photo)
(160608) -- BANGKOK, June 8, 2016 (Xinhua) -- A medical worker treats injured people from a speedboats' crash in Phuket, south Thailand, June 8, 2016. Two speedboats on Wednesday crashed in the sea of Phuket in south Thailand, killing two and injuring 26 tourists, Spring News reported.The crash took place at around 2 p.m. local time when the two boats were both heading from Phuket to the Mu Koh Phi Phi islands in stormy weather. The passengers were mainly Chinese and South Koreans. (Xinhua)
(160608) — BANGKOK, June 8, 2016 (Xinhua) — A medical worker treats injured people from a speedboats’ crash in Phuket, south Thailand, June 8, 2016. Two speedboats on Wednesday crashed in the sea of Phuket in south Thailand, killing two and injuring 26 tourists, Spring News reported.The crash took place at around 2 p.m. local time when the two boats were both heading from Phuket to the Mu Koh Phi Phi islands in stormy weather. The passengers were mainly Chinese and South Koreans. (Xinhua)

Author: ANA Newswire