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Death toll rises in Thai boat tragedy

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Despite fading hopes, rescuers in Thailand resumed a search on Saturday for 23 survivors after a boat carrying Chinese tourists sank off the island of Phuket in rough weather, while authorities began to investigate the boat’s operator.

The death toll from one of the worst transport accidents in Thailand’s recent history reached 33, authorities have said, with 49 of the 105 passengers on the sunken Phoenix rescued, although 37 are still in hospital, some with severe injuries. “We will take any chance in the search for life,” Tourism Minister Weerasak Kowsurat said at the search site on Friday, following comments by a Marine Department official that there was probably “no chance” of finding more survivors. “Safety and service have to be placed above revenue,” Weerasuk added.

The Phoenix, which was carrying 93 Chinese along with 12 Thai crew and tour guides, sank after being hit by five-meter (16-ft) -high waves in a storm on Thursday evening off Phuket, whose beaches and nightlife draw tourists.

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