Dozens missing after tourist boat capsizes off Thailand

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The death toll from a boat accident near the Thai holiday island of Phuket has risen to 21.

In a grisly development, divers reported seeing "over 10 bodies" floating inside the hull of the submerged boat, according to Thai navy Rear Admiral Charoenphon Khumrasee, who said they would try to retrieve them later Friday.

In its statement, it added that the Chinese consulate in southern Thailand already had staffers on the scene helping its citizens.

Another boat sailing in the same area capsized on Thursday but all 35 tourists, five crew and a guide on board were rescued, the Water Safety Department of the Harbour Department said.

To conclude, 58 people - 57 tourists and an engineer - are still missing.

The boat, called the Phoenix, was carrying 105 passengers, including 93 Chinese tourists and 12 Thai crew and tourist guides, when it capsized, officials said on Friday.

A stream of full body bags were brought to shore at Chalong Pier in Phuket and taken to a nearby hospital for identification, the Thai Ministry of Public Health said.

"One person is dead, 11 injured (2 have severe injuries, 5 minor) and 56 are missing".

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"I'm not really sure how many will survive", Phuket Governor Noraphat Plodthong told reporters. The commander of Phuket Provincial Police, Teerapol Tipcharoen, said the sea had calmed since Thursday evening's accident and the search was ongoing.

Another boat also overturned off Phuket on Thursday afternoon, but all 42 on board were rescued.

The government of the eastern Chinese city of Haining in Zhejiang province said on its official microblog account that it received a distress alert sent by phone text message from the head of the Haining Haipai Furniture Co.

This comes after at least six people died when an "overcrowded" ferry in Indonesia carrying 139 passengers sank after being battered by giant 13ft waves.

A police official had earlier said 90 people had been rescued from the boat and just seven were missing.

Forty-three other passengers remain unaccounted for but are believed to have been trapped on the Phoenix, which sank as it was returning from a day trip from Phuket.

"There were high winds this evening", he said, adding that a weather warning had been issued because of "strong winds and storms" on Wednesday.

Thailand is already making worldwide headlines after 12 boys and their junior soccer coach were found alive this week after becoming trapped inside a cave in the country's north.

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