A report in the Phuket news today has uncovered that a third dive boat sank off Phuket in February 1st. Fifteen French tourist were rescued after their dive boat caught fire and sank. The boat was around 60km southwest of Koh Lanta at the time of the incident.
Live-aboard boat MV Bunmee, owned by a French company based in Kata was carrying twenty people, fifteen of whom were French, the others were crew. The report states that news of the sinking was kept very quiet, although rumors about the incident are rife in dive circles.
The paper found details with regards to the sinking when a diver on board, who wishes only to be known as Xavior conacted them regarding the incident. He said the boat left Phuket at around 10-30 pm for a four day long diving trip around the southern sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Four hours into the trip, at around 2-30 am while the passengers were sleeping somebody on board smelled smoked and alerted the others. As smoke filled the cabin from the engine room below the divers were forced to go up on deck. The crew used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, that were hidden behind a wall of smoke.
Once all on deck the passengers realized that the boat no longer had any power, and consequently no radio, there was also no mobile phone signal as they were too far out at sea. Xavier reported that somebody on board made an emergency battery using dive torches and managed to get the radio to work, but nobody had an accurate idea of their position
“we were scared of course, especially because we could not alert anybody that we were in trouble, in addition the lifeboat did not inflate when it was thrown into the water, the crew tried for twenty minutes before it inflated” he told the Phuket Gazette.
Somebody on board then managed o use their iPhone to get the GPS location and twenty minutes after that the Bunmee 1 made contact with a fishing boat that arrived one hour later. After watching their boat sink the passengers were taken back to Chalong Pier, a six hour journey.
Nobody was injured in the incident but everybody lost their personal belongings and twelve on board lost their passports. Those without passports had to take a twelve hour bus trip to Bangkok to get temporary travel documents to allow them to return home to France.
The Phuket News has made many attempts to contact the owners of the boat, Andaman Scuba but all calls have gone unanswered.
Last Sunday (February 9), the MV Blue Star, belonging to Chalong Sea Sports, caught fire and sank in Burmese waters while on a week-long dive trip. All 20 or so people on board were rescued by a passing fishing boat, though they lost their belongings, and a great deal of expensive dive gear went down with the boat.
On January 29, the Ranong-based dive boat Magic Carpet sank near Koh Tachai after its hull was holed.
Source Phuket GazetteStay updated with Samui Times by following us on Facebook.
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