Terrifying moment ‘out of control’ Thai warship starts sinking after capsizing during storm – as rescue crews search for dozens of missing sailors
- HTMS Sukhothai sank off the south-eastern Thai coast shortly after midnight
- Rescuers in ships and helicopters are searching for 31 missing sailors
- The vessel was patrolling the Gulf of Thailand when it capsized in high seas
This is the terrifying moment an ‘out of control’ Thai warship started sinking after it capsized during a storm off the south-eastern coast of Thailand.
Video shows the His Thai Majesty’s Ship (HTMS) Sukhothai keeling over dramatically, with water surging towards desperate sailors clinging to the railings.
The warship was patrolling the Gulf of Thailand, around 20 nautical miles from the town of Bang Saphan in the southern province of Prachuap Khiri Khan, when it ran into strong currents and developed engine problems.
Three navy vessels and two helicopters are searching for 31 missing sailors who were thrown into the water when the US-built ship sank on Sunday night.
Video stills show HTMS Sukhothai keeling over dramatically before it sank off the south-eastern coast of Thailand
Footage shows HTMS Sukhothai dramatically keeling over and water surging towards desperate sailors who were clinging to the railings
‘We are still looking for 31 missing,’ said navy spokesperson Admiral Pogkrong Monthardpalin, adding that the ship sank shortly after midnight.
‘The ship’s operating systems stopped working, causing the ship to lose control,’ he said.
The overnight rescue mission, involving two Seahawk helicopters, two frigates and one amphibious ship, saved 75 of the 106 people on board, with the remaining 31 forced to abandon ship.
One rescued crew member interviewed by Thai PBS television said he had to stay afloat in the sea for three hours before he was rescued.
He said the ship was buffeted by 10ft waves as it sank, complicating rescue efforts.
The overnight rescue mission, involving two Seahawk helicopters, two frigates and one amphibious ship, secured 75 of the 106 people on board (left), with the remaining 31 forced to abandon ship (right)
‘The waves are still high and we cannot search for them from the horizontal line. We have to fly the helicopters and search for them from a bird’s eye view instead,’ Admiral Monthardpalin explained.
The navy posted images and video footage on its Twitter account showing a group of personnel in orange vests in a black inflatable raft moving away from a ship in darkness as waves swelled around it. It was not immediately clear how many rafts had been deployed.
The search-and-rescue operation, which started at 7am, continues, the navy said in a statement.
Around 11 naval personnel were being treated at Bang Saphan hospital, while some 40 others were being housed at shelters.
Sailors who were rescued from the Thai navy ship were taken to hospital in an ambulance after their vessel sank
Around 11 naval personnel were being treated at Bang Saphan hospital, while some 40 others were being housed at shelters
The Sukhothai is a US-built corvette in use since 1987
The Sukhothai, a US-built corvette in use since 1987, was hit by strong waves on Sunday, forcing it to tilt to one side before becoming flooded with water, Admiral Monthardpalin said.
He added: ‘Our top priority now is to rescue all the sailors. We will plan to have the ship salvaged later.’
The search is being carried out in a 6.2-square-mile area around the site of the sinking.
One picture shared by the navy showed the vessel on its side, while another showed its bow and a gun turret poking above the water as it went down.
The ship had been on had been on a regular patrol to assist fishing boats in bad weather when it sank.
While northern and central Thailand are experiencing their coldest temperatures of the year, far southern Thailand has been hit by storms and flooding in recent days. Ships were warned to stay ashore.
The incident marks the first time a Thai warship has sunk since the Second World War when a US submarine torpedoed HTMS Samui near Malaysia and killed 31 sailors.
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