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On Sunday a packed tourist ferry sank off a resort near Pattaya killing six of its passengers and seriously injuring fifteen others. According to the police of those killed three were foreigners and one of those seriously hurt was a Russian child.
Television footage showed stunned tourists being led to the safety of the shore in an incident that will do nothing but further tarnish the image of Thailand as a tourist destination. Pattaya police chief Colonel Suwarn Chiewnawintawat played down earlier reports that many passengers remained trapped inside the vessel by announcing that one hundred and fifty passenger had been plucked from the sea.
The police are investigating the disaster that local media are blaming on engine trouble and overcrowding. Russian news reports said that three Russians including a child had been taken to hospital in a serious condition. A Russian embassy official in Bangkok said that at least half of the passengers were Russian.
Thailand attracts over twenty two million tourists a year but with the threat of a new fee to enter the country that is struggling to shake off a reputation for lax safety standards that result in tourists deaths that number could be set to dwindle.
In May more than one hundred passengers were rescued from a ferry that began to sink off Phuket after it was hit by a big wave. Four people, including tourists died in a nightclub fire in August in Phuket, in October one died and many more were seriously hurt in a bus accident in Kanchanaburi province and twenty more died when a bus plunged into a ravine in Lampang and only last week another bus crash trapped six passengers including a foreigner in Bangkok. The country has also suffered high profile media coverage of foreigners being murdered, drugged and caught up in cons around the country. Not good news for the Land of Smiles.