Kiwis rescued after boat capsizes in Thailand

Thailand's Ko Phi Phi beach. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Thailand's Ko Phi Phi beach. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Two New Zealanders were among tourists rescued after a speedboat capsized off the Thai island of Phi Phi.

The speedboat Luk Pradu 26 was carrying 37 tourists, three crew and a guide when it sunk in rough seas on Monday morning, local time, the Phuket News reported.

The 13-metre boat was returning to Phuket due to the rough conditions when a large wave struck the vessel damaging the bow.

All of those on board have been rescued.

Twenty-four of the tourists were Chinese, the Phuket Gazette reported, while the rest were Malaysians, Indonesians, Britons, Australians, and New Zealanders.

New Zealanders Elizabeth Hickey and William Ihaka were among the tourists rescued.

"We were both sitting at the front and the water hit us before it hit anyone else," Ms Hickey told 3News.

"And we could see the waves and we just knew that it was going to go down. We knew that the boat was going to sink."

Seven of those on board were taken to hospital in Phuket, with head or arm injuries, the Phuket News said. None were seriously injured.

British tourist Samantha Chappell, 22, was among the injured.

"The sea was very rough today. After the water filled the boat, it began to sink quickly," Ms Chappell told the Phuket News. "I was very scared.

"Petrol leaked from the boat and burned my skin.

"We were floating in our life jackets for about an hour before we were rescued."

An Australian man, who was on the boat with his wife and his daughters - aged 2 and 8, was critical of the crew's response to the sinking.

"The boat and the crew were hopeless," Hakan Ergun, 38, told the Phuket Wan Tourist News.

"The lifejackets weren't really life jackets at all. There were buckles missing and it was a miracle everyone stayed afloat.

"The captain and the crew, they had no idea whatsoever. It was every man for himself."

Phuket Marine Police confirmed to the Phuket News an alert had been issued warning of the rough conditions, however it did not prohibit boats from sailing.

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