A provincial Marine Department director on Thursday suspended the boat operation licences for four individuals involved in two separate recent accidents in Krabi and Phuket provinces.
Director Surat Sirisaiyart of the Phuket branch also called on tour operators and others in both provinces to be more careful and help to build tourists’ trust in the country’s safety.
The licences of a pilot and a crewmember were suspended for two years in the accident as a result of an incident when a speedboat exploded on its way to Koh Phi Phi offshore Krabi province on Sunday, injuring 16, most of whom were Chinese tourists.
Twenty-six Chinese tourists and five Thai crew members were on the King Poseidon 959 speedboat chartered by Apple Tour, which had left from a private pier in Phuket’s Muang district and was headed to Phi Phi Island when it exploded in front of the so-called “Viking Cave” attraction.
The boat’s crewmembers were charged with recklessness that caused injuries.
Surat said the preliminary investigation showed that the explosion had been caused when the pilot tried to repair the boat while the passengers were still onboard.
“Repairing the equipment with all the passengers onboard is considered grave recklessness. His act caused the explosion and injured many tourists.”
Referring to a crash between two speedboats in Phuket recently, Surat said pilots had been reckless after they were found to be speeding in congested water traffic.
In the Phuket case, the licences of two boat pilots were suspended for six months.
He added that the number of Marine Department personnel in Phuket was very small compared to the influx of tourists and boat operators.
“People who break the rules will face the highest punishment, which is the suspension of boat pilot licences. For both accidents, if the investigations find that they were caused by recklessness of pilots or excessive speeding, they will be face criminal charges.”
Although the fine was just Bt2,000, their careers would end if their licences are revoked, Surat said.
Tour operators have to prevent accidents because tourism is their source of income, he said, adding that such incidents became well known internationally.