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Published on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thai minister blames Chinese tour operators for deadly boat accident

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has laid partial blame on illegal Chinese run tour operators for one of the country's worst tour boat disasters.

The death toll is likely to rise above 50 after the Phoenix tour boat sank in rough seas on July 5 off the island of Phuket.

It was carrying dozens of Chinese tourists.

Prawit blamed tour operators for flouting business ownership laws.

"Some Chinese use Thai nominees to bring Chinese tourists in … they did not heed warnings … which is why this incident happened. This needs to be remedied," Prawit said, without elaborating further.

Several Chinese citizens have been caught and deported in recent years for illegally operating tourist businesses under a local Thai nominee.

"Officially, 11 people are still missing," said Phuket provincial governor Noraphat Plodthong.

Thailand's tourism ministry will offer a 1 million baht ($30,000) pay out in compensation to each family of the victims.

Thailand is highly dependent on the China market, which represented about a third of the record 35 million arrivals last year.


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