Sinking of a ship of the Thai armed forces: 3 new bodies recovered, bringing the death toll to 18
Sylvie Claire / December 26, 2022
Three more bodies have been recovered, a week after a Thai military vessel sank, the Royal Thai Navy said Sunday, bringing the death toll to 18.
Eleven members of the 105-member crew are still missing, according to the Navy.
The corvette HTMS Sukhothai sank on the night of December 18 about 30 kilometers off the coast, off Bang Saphan (south), triggering a massive rescue operation that rescued 76 crew members.
"We have found three bodies that will undergo an identification and autopsy procedure, which will take three or four days," said Navy spokesman Pogkrong Montradpalin.
The navy has raised the death toll from the sinking to 18.
Twelve bodies had already been recovered and identified as crew members.
And three more bodies have been found, one of which was also identified on Saturday, Pogkrong said without further details.
Several warships, patrol planes and helicopters have been deployed to the search area in the hope of finding survivors.
Pogkrong also said the area where the ship sank had been declared a "disaster prevention zone" because of the risk of oil leakage.
"This is one of the worst tragedies to happen to the Royal Thai Navy," Admiral Chonlathis Navanugraha said Tuesday.
Rough seas, with waves "three meters" high according to a survivor, helped damage the electrical system of the HTMS Sukhothai and put it "out of control" of the crew, according to the Navy.
The crew tried to pump out the incoming water, but the flow was too high, causing the ship to sink and now lie 40 meters below the surface.
The U.S.-built HTMS Sukhothai was commissioned in 1987, according to the U.S. Naval Institute think tank.