At least 31 Thai Navy sailors were missing on Monday after their vessel sank off the southeastern coast of Thailand, a naval spokesperson said.
The HTMS Sukhothai was patrolling the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 20 nautical miles from Bang Saphan pier in southern Prachuap Khiri Khan, when it ran into solid tides and took on the water late Sunday night.
Thailand’s military has dispatched helicopters, planes, and ships to rescue dozens of sailors missing after a navy vessel sank during a storm in the Gulf of Thailand.
The HTMS Sukhothai was carrying 106 people when it went down late on Sunday night, according to the Royal Thai Navy. A rescue mission was launched after the vessel’s electronic system was damaged, with pictures shared by the navy showing the ship dramatically heeling to one side.
By midmorning on Monday, 75 sailors had been rescued and 31 were still in the water, the military said. At least three of the survivors were “seriously injured”, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.
The HTMS Sukhothai had taken on seawater after it was hit by strong waves, causing it to tilt to one side, according to the Bangkok Post. The corvette class ship, which had been in use since 1987, also suffered a power blackout.
The vessel sank at 11:30 pm local time (16:30 GMT) on Sunday.
“We are still looking for 31 missings,” said navy spokesperson Admiral Pogkrong Montradpalin, adding that the ship sank shortly after midnight.
“The ship’s operating systems stopped working, causing the ship to lose control,” he said Monday morning.
A statement said 75 of 106 personnel on board were pulled from the waters in a rescue operation involving two Seahawk helicopters, two frigates, and one amphibious ship. The search-and-rescue operation, which started at 7 am, was ongoing, the statement added.
Around 11 naval personnel were treated at Bang Saphan hospital, while some 40 others were housed at shelters. The 31 sailors still missing are all believed to be afloat in the stormy sea, wearing life jackets, the Bangkok Post reported.
The incident occurred while the warship was on patrol at sea 32km (20 miles) from the pier at Bangsaphan district in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. While northern and central parts are seeing their coldest temperatures of the year, far southern Thailand has been experiencing storms and flooding in recent days.
Ships had been warned to stay ashore during the inclement weather.