Thai paramedic personnel attend to rescued passengers from a capsized tourist boat in rough seas at a port in Phuket. (Source: AFP)

Bangkok (VNA) – Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, on July 9, blamed Chinese tour operators for the death of more than 40 people in a boat accident off a resort island last weekend.

The official criticised them for not respecting Thai safety regulations. He said did not heed waternings, but did not go on to elaborate.

The boat, the Phoenix, went down in rough seas on July 5 off Phuket island with 101 people on board, including 89 tourists, all but two of whom were from China.

Previously, authorities had said the boat was carrying 105 people. They later revised the figure saying that some of those booked did not join the trip.

Phuket provincial governor Noraphat Plodthong told a news conference that there are 10 people still missing.

In an urgent circular issued on July 7, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism said travel companies across China should carry out security checks against hidden risks to ensure travel safety during the summer period. It also stressed the importance of researching online travel companies when booking overseas trips. Many of the tourists involved in the Phuket accident booked their trips independently via online tourism platforms, the ministry said.

The Phoenix was among several boats that appeared to have ignored a severe weather warning to take tourists on day-trips to smaller islands off Phuket.

Thailand’s tourism ministry said it would give 1 million THB (30,202 USD) in compensation to each of the victims’ families. -VNA