Seven people were killed, four foreigners and three Thais, after a tourist ferry capsized about 100 metres off the main Bali Hai pier in Pattaya Sunday evening.
The ferry was aiming to bring its 200 passengers into the Bali Hai Pier, the landmark landing on the mainland, after a day at the island. (File photo by Patipat Janthong)
More than 100 passengers were injured, about 10 seriously, including a nine-year-old Thai boy.
The incident occurred about 5.30pm when the double-decker ferry was en route from Koh Larn to the Bali Hai Pier, Pattaya police superintendent Suwan Chiewnawinthawat said.
Shortly after leaving from Koh Larn with a full load of passengers, the ferry's water pumps broke down and the engine stopped functioning, Pol Col Suwan said.
The passengers on board, acting out of fear, moved to the second deck of the ferry, which tipped the vessel on to one side.
The vessel then swiftly sank into the sea, he said.
There were about 200 passengers on board, the officer said.
Enquiries will begin on Monday on whether the ferry had proper safety gear, and life preserving vests and equipment. An early report indicated the ferry was not carrying proper safety equipment.
"Witnesses said there were neither enough tubes nor life vests on the ferry. Some of those who could not swim had to cling onto coolers or ice containers until rescuers came," said Pol Col Suwan Cheawnavinthavat, chief of Muang Pattaya police station.
Dead are three Russians - one woman and two men - a Chinese man, and three Thais.
Injured passengers were rescued and sent to nearby hospitals with most of them suffering minor injuries. Police were looking for the ferry's captain.
Since the exact number of passengers on board the ferry was not known, authorities and rescuers were still at the scene late Sunday, searching for passengers who might still be missing, Pol Col Suwan said.
The boat accident occurs less than three months after an Aug 28 incident when two Chinese tourists were killed as a speedboat they were travelling in crashed into an anchored long-tailed boat at the Bali Hai Pier.
The speedboat had been taking about 20 Chinese tourists from Koh Lan to Pattaya on the mainland.
The accident prompted authorities to step up safety measures on boat transportation between the island and Pattaya.
NOTE: Latest report shows that only six people were confirmed dead from this accident.