Governor: 49 missing as boat overturns in seas off Thailand

Forty-nine people are missing after a boat carrying dozens of Chinese tourists overturned in rough seas off southern Thailand, an official said.

Another two boats, including a yacht carrying 39 people, also capsized but its passengers have been brought to safety.

Police Lt. Colonel Somsak Sophakarn, the deputy chief of Phuket's Chalong Provincial Police Station, said one of the boats, the Phoenix PC Diving boat, had some 90 passengers on board, most of whom were Chinese tourists.

Television footage taken at a pier in Phuket showed stunned tourists huddling in blankets, while several women cried as medics tended to the injured.

"So I sent someone to them to wear life jackets". They said they didn't know the nationalities of the other missing people, but those who had been rescued were mostly Chinese on group tours. The reason for the discrepancy was not clear. The images also showed survivors being lifted from the rafts and sitting in lifejackets, amid ropes on the deck of what appeared to be a fishing trawler.

Phuket officials had earlier issued a severe weather warning over heavy rain and strong winds lasting until next Tuesday. However, at last report that the rescue teams were finding it hard to carry out the rescue with darkness falling and the strong wind and waves continuing.

The boat was one of three to encounter difficulties at sea in the area on Thursday, the navy said.

The kingdom is already in the global spotlight for a dramatic rescue mission in the north of the country, after 12 boys and their football coach were trapped in a cave complex.