Public meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall hears Vice Governor call for fireboats as the response to the incident exposed the weaknesses Phuket faces in relation to maritime security and safety. These were highlighted last year after the Phoenix tour boat tragedy in which saw 47 Chinese tourists lost their lives.

Thai police have carried out their first inspection of the Lady D as part of an investigation into Wednesday’s fire which destroyed the ฿126 million superyacht moored in the Thalang area of Phuket. Their initial findings suggest that the fire began in the 2nd-floor living area of the craft and was fed by the luxurious decor contained on the yacht’s interior including the prevalence of wood. Police have said they are not in a position to conclude how the fire started until key witnesses have been questioned. They also indicated that their initial enquiries suggest that the vessel was insured.

Thai police and inspectors from Phuket boarded the wreckage of the Lady D superyacht now lying off Ko Thanan about 15 miles from the marina in Phuket where a fire broke out aboard the ฿126 million vessel on Wednesday morning. Police now believe the fire started on the 2nd-floor living area of the yacht and say that the luxurious interior helped it to burn. They are not ready to conclude what caused the fire until they have questioned some further witnesses. Phuket police also say that initial enquiries suggest that the superyacht was insured for millions of dollars. The complications that arose on Wednesday morning with firefighting efforts to save the craft were the subject of a meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall on Thursday where the Vice Governor of Phuket called for the Thai government to approve the provision of fireboats to marinas in Phuket such as the one in Thalang where the Lady D was moored on Wednesday morning when the fire started.

Thai police and relevant officials from Thalang in Phuket on Thursday afternoon visited the burned-out wreck of the Lady D superyacht lying near the island of Ko Thanan about 1.5 miles off Phuket. The purpose of the visit was to begin an investigation into the fire and to assess the yacht’s current situation.

Police have initially reported that the superyacht registered in the United Kingdom and reported to be owned by an investment company, is insured. The police did qualify this by saying the further checks must be made to confirm the situation.

Police and inspectors boarded the Lady D and inspected the burned-out wreckage of the craft

They boarded the vessel and from the initial inspection, Thai police are now reported to believe that fire may have started on the second-floor living area of the long-range yacht and cruiser. Yesterday the Thai Examiner reported that the fire had started in the engine room based on the evidence of a person at the scene of the firefighting efforts on Wednesday morning.

Luxurious and wooden furniture in the yacht’s decor contributed to the conflagration

Police say that the abundance of wooden furniture and the luxury of the decor on the craft may have contributed to the conflagration that burned from 8 am on Wednesday until the early hours of Thursday morning.

Inspectors and police identified burned out sea craft stored aboard the Lady D such as jet skis and smaller boats during the course of the inspection. These were located towards the stern of the vessel.

Police seeking to interview witnesses before coming to a conclusion on how the fire started

The police have indicated that before they can specifically identify the cause of the fire on Wednesday, they will need to interview further witnesses to the incident.

The yacht is surrounded by a boom designed to prevent oil fuel escaping from its hull and causing pollution. Officers inspecting this yesterday found that there was some slight leakage from the vessel into the sea.

 Public meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall hears demands for fireboats to be available at marinas

At the same time, yesterday afternoon, Phuket saw a public meeting at Phuket Provincial Hall involving senior officials who came together to explore the aftermath of the fire. There was a general consensus that the Phuket had been lucky to be able to tow the craft out the sea on Wednesday as the fire response to the incident, at the outset, ran into complications. This included delays in firefighters accessing water supplies on Wednesday morning and getting pumps to work.

Key figures in Phuket including police and naval leaders in attendance at meeting

Speakers and attendees at the meeting included the Vice Governor of Phuket, Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai and the Chief of the Phuket Provincial office of the government department responsible for disaster prevention and mitigation, Prapan Kanprasang. The meeting was also attended by Rear Admiral Withonrat Kotchasenee of the Royal Thai Navy and the Thalang area of Phuket’s Chief of Police, Colonel Theerawat Liamsuwan.

Vice Governor says emergency marine facilities were to be given priority after the Phoenix disaster in July 2018 that left 47 Chinese tourists lose their lives

The Vice Governor spoke strongly on the issue and reminded his audience of the need for authorities to be sensitive and responsive to safety issues. He called for immediate action from the national government to approve a package to allow for fireboats to be deployed in Phuket. The lack of fire fighting and emergency marine response facilities was already identified last year in the aftermath of the Phoenix tragedy in July which saw 47 Chinese tourists lose their lives and which damaged Thailand’s reputation in China and some would say the prospects for Chinese tourism. 

Fireboats budgeted to cost ฿50 million

‘The obvious weakness is that we don’t have fireboats while there are almost 10,000 boats in our province,’ the Vice Governor was quoted this week as saying in Phuket’s local newspaper, The Phuket News. ‘The government is negotiating with the Budget Bureau. I hope they understand the situation right now. Even though we have the Third Naval Area Command, it is not enough. We have asked for two fireboats, together costing around ฿50million, which has not been approved yet.’

Vice Governor: Phuket generates over ฿400 billion annually for Thailand’s economy

The Phuket Vice Governor pointed out that Phuket and its huge tourist industry generate over ฿400 billion a year for the Thai economy and is the second-highest income generator in Thailand. He bluntly called on the government to act.

Local disaster chief says budgetary approval for the fireboats has not been forthcoming

The local provincial chief at the disaster prevention office echoed the vice governor in his comments. Mr Prapan said that following the Phoenix tragedy, the government in Bangkok had given orders to his office to strengthen its ability to respond to emergencies. He said a plan was drawn up to provide a fire and a medical boat at each of the four key marinas in the province including at the scene of Wednesday’s incident. He revealed that the budget request was for ฿50 million which has yet not been approved.

Fire aboard superyacht in Phuket began in the engine room. Lady D towed out to sea yesterday

Thai police initial enquiries: Lady D superyacht was insured

+ Police from Phuket including forensic officers on Thursday visited the wrecked Lady D superyacht off the island of Ko Thanan as part of an investigation into the fire that began on Wednesday and destroyed the luxury ฿126 million superyacht. Morris reports from Phuket

Posted by on Friday, August 9, 2019