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06 July 2018, 09:42 | Darnell Patrick
Thailand's navy said early Friday afternoon that nine bodies of Chinese tourists were being brought to Phuket.
Strong winds were still blowing as searchers looked for the missing people off the tourist island of Phuket in the Andaman Sea.
The boat was returning to Phuket from Koh Racha at around 4pm (0900 GMT) when a storm hit, according to the captain, who identified himself as Somjing Boontham in a televised interview.
The incident comes as rescuers, also led by Thai navy divers, struggle to extract 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in the country's far north, where they've been trapped since June 23.
Tourist Police Deputy Commander Maj-General Surachet Hakpan said, "We have warned many Phuket tour operators not to leave port today". Most of the passengers onboard the yacht have been rescued but two are still missing, the department said.
Ambulances could be seen waiting for various people to be rescued.
The boat was carrying 90 passengers when it capsized.
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The Phoenix was among several boats that appeared to have ignored a severe weather warning in place since Wednesday to take tourists on day-trips to the islands that dot the seas off Phuket.
A late report from the Thai PBS television station said the body of a man wearing a life jacket from the larger vessel had been recovered.
Phuket is a magnet for overseas visitors including Western sun-seekers and huge numbers of Chinese tourists who make up the bulk of the 35 million people expected to visit the kingdom this year.
All of the passengers in both cases were pulled from the sea alive. It was not immediately clear if the passengers were tourists.
It added that the Chinese consulate in southern Thailand already had staffers on the scene helping its citizens.
At least 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler when one of the vessels, carrying 97 people, overturned in strong winds and rough seas.
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