A Cambodian fisherman was rescued after being found floating at sea with the bodies of three crewmates tethered to him with a rope after their boat sank off southern Thailand during a storm last weekend, Thai navy officials said Thursday.
The fisherman, identified as Sia Soy, had been in the water for at least a day before another fishing boat rescued him off the coast of Songkhla province before transferring him to the navy’s care, officials said. A Royal Thai Navy patrol boat, Tor 992, brought Soy and the bodies to the Songkhla Naval Base on Wednesday evening.
“The fishing boat who assisted them told us they saw a survivor who had tied the three dead men to himself with a rope to prevent them from scattering away,” Lt. Natdhanai Namnart told reporters at the base.
“He was floating for some 30 hours before a fishing boat helped them.”
According to officials, their boat, the Subsunan, sank 30 nautical miles off Songkhla. Soy said two Thai crewmembers and one Khmer crewmember had died, while another was missing.
Their fishing boat had left Pattani province in the Thai Deep South in early December, officials said, before encountering rough waters on Sunday, Dec. 18, the same day that the HTMS Sukhothai, a Thai warship, sank in Gulf of Thailand waters off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
On Thursday, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha attended the funeral rites for six sailors whose bodies were recovered after the Sukhothai sank.
Officials said 23 military personnel were still missing at sea but a search to find them was ongoing. Thai Navy members had rescued 76 other navy sailors.
The Sukhothai’s engines and power generators failed after the ship took on water from severe flooding after being struck by waves between 2 and 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) in height, officials said.
A relative of a missing sailor had claimed that the Sukhothai did not have proper equipment for all sailors aboard.
“There were not sufficient life vests, we felt disheartened. How can you make us parents keep hope?” Malinee Poodpong told a navy official.
The navy said the ship was on a special mission and 30 Marines and Coast Guard troops were added to the normal crew.
“In the case of life vests, some of the crew did not have one, but they had lifebuoys [flotation devices],” Pichai, the First Naval Region commander, said Tuesday.
BenarNews is an RFA-affiliated news service.