Chinese aneon paper wristbandsmong 16 injured in boat blaze

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Smoke pours from the boat that was carrying 27 Chinese tourists when it caught fire in southern Thailand. XINHUA

BANGKOK - A tourist speedboat carrying 31 passengers exploded in front of Phi Phi Le island in the southern Thailand province of Krabi on Sunday, injuring 16, mostly tourists from China, the Phi Phi police said.

The speedboat, named King Poseidon, was ferrying 27 Chinese tourists from the nearby resort island of Phuket to Phi Phi before its engine caught fire and exploded injuring 14 tourists and two crew members, the police said, adding that the authority is still investigating the cause of the explosion.

Out of the 16 injured, six are in a severe condition, Phi Phi hospital staff said, adding that seven people have been sent to hospitals in Phuket for further treatment and nine have been discharged.

The Chinese consulate in Songkhla said all the Chinese tourists have been helped ashore while the rescue team is still searching for the others.

China National Tourism Administration launched an emergency response and urged officials to help to treat the injured tourists and identify the cause.

Local media said there was a fuel leak. The captain went to check the engine and it suddenly exploded. The fire quickly spread, prompting all the passengers to scramble for swimming vests and jump into the sea.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Beach resorts and islands in southern Thailand are major tourist attractions, particularly during the high season from November to March.

Xinhua - Reuters