The boat was carrying 105 passengers, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew as well as tourist guides, when it capsized off Thailand's Phuket island. Officials say around 23 others are missing.

A rescued woman wearing a life jacket hugs a man after a boat capsized off the tourist island of Phuket, Thailand, July 5, 2018 in this still image taken from video.
A rescued woman wearing a life jacket hugs a man after a boat capsized off the tourist island of Phuket, Thailand, July 5, 2018 in this still image taken from video. (Reuters)

Thai authorities on Friday evening suspended the search for missing tourists who were on a boat that sank during a storm off the southern resort island of Phuket, as the death toll rose to 33, all of them Chinese nationals.

The search for another 23 people still missing will resume at 5 am on Saturday, said Prapan Khanprasang, chief of the Phuket Provincial Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Office.

Nine bodies of Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket, where authorities had already confirmed the death of another Chinese man. The nationalities of the others killed were not immediately known.

Some of the bodies were found by divers who entered the wreck on Friday and others were floating in the water, said navy official Narong Aurabhakdi.

The boat was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, 11 crew and one tour guide when it toppled in 5-metre (16-foot) -high waves on Thursday evening. At least 12 of the injured were hospitalised.

Another boat also overturned off Phuket on Thursday afternoon, but all 42 on board were rescued.

The accidents came as rescuers, also led by Thai navy divers, struggled to extract 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in the country's far north, where they've been trapped since June 23.

TRT World 's  Philip Owira has more.

Chinese delegation heads to Thailand

Jin Yilin, consul-general of the Chinese Embassy in Thailand, said a delegation from the Chinese Foreign Ministry was on the way to Thailand.

Images on Thursday showed rescued people in large rubber life rafts, with fishing boats and churning seas in the background. The survivors were shown being lifted from the rafts and sitting wearing life jackets amid ropes on the deck of what appeared to be a fishing trawler.

As the seas calmed on Friday, divers were transporting the bodies of the dead, including at least one child, from smaller boats to a larger ship taking part in the search effort.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of Thailand's military government, expressed his "sympathies and deepest condolences" to the families of the dead.

The government will "exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event," he said in a statement.

Reports in Thai media said police charged the owner and captain of the stricken ship with carelessness causing death and injury.

Extreme weather

Severe weather including heavy rain and winds were forecast until Tuesday. Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong said officials would consider whether to ban boats from going to sea during strong winds.

Thai PBS television reported late on Thursday that weather had forced 12 boats with 263 passengers in all to stay docked at Racha island, a popular diving spot about an hour's boat ride from Phuket.

They said they were providing food, shelter and water to the people, and if the weather did not clear, larger boats belonging to the navy would be sent to retrieve them.

The Thai incident came after an overloaded boat carrying illegal Indonesian immigrants capsized in bad weather off Malaysia's southern Johor state late Sunday, killing 10 and leaving nine missing.

Source: AP