A 12-year-old Israeli girl, apparently trapped inside a bathroom, died as a fierce fire engulfed a tourist ferry off Krabi in Thailand yesterday and burned the vessel to the waterline.
About 115 other terrified passengers and crew were rescued from the blazing Ao Nang Princess 5 tourist ferry, which had set out from the island of Phuket.
Krabi, on the west coast of southern Thailand, is popular with tourists for its romantic and spectacular limestone karst landscapes.
The girl was believed to have been in the toilet when the blaze broke out about 10 kilometres off the coast of Ao Nang in Krabi province, Phuketwan news reported.
Seeing smoke on the water, fishing trawler captains steered their craft to the rescue, with speedboats beating them in the rush to save the tourists. The valiant response saw scores of tourists plucked from the sea. The girl was believed to have been the only fatality.
Chief Inspector Lieutenant Panya Deatsupa of the Marine Police in Krabi said the ferry made regular return trips from Phuket to Krabi.
“The fire broke out about 3.30pm as the vessel was returning to Phuket. The boat later sank about 6pm.”
Police reports said the captain of the Ao Nang Princess 5 heard an explosion in the engine room, almost immediately followed by fierce fire.
The captain ordered everyone to don life jackets and prepare to abandon ship. Fire quickly engulfed the ferry before it went down off Krabi’s Noppharat Thara beach.
The boat sank quickly, and divers were yesterday preparing to descend to inspect the wreckage. A report last night said the body of the dead girl had been located in the sunken vessel and recovered.
Written by : Peter Needham