A 57-year-old British woman and a Thai cook remained missing after the other 16 people on their capsized dive-boat were rescued by fishing-boat crew in the Andaman Sea yesterday morning (23 December).
The woman has been named as Millie Young, 57, an artist from Brighton. The incident occurred at around 9am some four nautical miles from Surin Islands National Park, which lies 30 miles from the Thai mainland.
Onboard the Reggae Queen, a liveaboard also known as Sawan, had been a reported 13 tourist snorkellers or scuba divers, including a UK couple with their two children, along with five crew. They had embarked on a trip to explore the waters around Torinla Island in the national park.
The vessel is thought to have been overwhelmed by strong winds, possibly while manoeuvring. A local fishing-boat, Prasuprani 9, picked up 15 of the guests and four crew-members and brought them ashore at Kuraburi Harbour at around mid-day.
Surin Naval Forces liaised with national park officials to launch a search and rescue operation covering a wide area using a naval helicopter, patrol vessel and RIBs.
Fishing and cargo vessels in the area were also instructed to join in the search, though stormy conditions typical of the time of year were said to have been hampering the search. Strong north-westerly currents could have swept the missing pair some distance from the site of the sinking.
Another tourist boat called Mukhmina carrying Russian tourists also capsized in Phang Nga Bay, knocking the passengers and captain into the sea, though they were all picked up uninjured. Local authorities issued a temporary ban on tour-boats in the area while search operations for the two missing people continued.