Naval search teams have plucked three more bodies from the sea, bringing the number of confirmed deaths from Phoenix dive boat accident to 44 and the number of missing down to three, said Phuket governor Norapat Ploodthong this morning (Tuesday)
Although the three dead victims recovered today have yet to be identified, he said it was assumed that they were passengers from the ill-fated dive boat as they were found in the direction of the currents that flowed from the scene of the accident between Koh Heh and Koh Mai Thon off Phuket.
Of the 11 still missing as of yesterday, the governor said he received confirmation from the immigration police and the Chinese consular office that three of the passengers listed as missing had already returned to China and two others were about to leave Thailand for home.
Adding up with the three bodies recovered today, the actual number of missing has now been down to just three, said the governor, adding that sea and air searches for the missing still continue.
Of the 44 dead, 37 of them have been identified and, of these, 33 of them were confirmed by their relatives.
Dr Chirapat Taepant, Phuket public health official, said that 32 death certificates have been issued and 26 bodies are now ready to be claimed by their relatives in accordance with the set protocol, which includes a letter from the committee charged with releasing the bodies and a letter of approval from the Chinese consular office as well as death certificates.
As for the body which is still stuck in the sunken Phoenix boat, Vice Admiral Somnoek Prempramote, the commander of the Third Naval Area, said stormy sea still poses an obstacle for divers to operate.