Monday, June 28, 2010

Full moon crash: seven Australians were hurt in Saturday's collision

One of the boats involved in a crash off the Thai island of Koh Samui on the weekend is the same boat that capsized in 2005 killing 15 people, including two Australians.

The Sawasdi Chalermchoke Nawa 5 sank off Koh Samui in January 2005, killing more than a dozen people who were returning from the famous full moon beach party.

The ABC has now confirmed with maritime safety officials that the same boat was one of those involved in a crash between two vessels in the same area on the way to the same party on Saturday.

A total of 42 people - including seven Australians - were hurt in Saturday's collision and it is believed poor weather may have been a factor in the crash.

Katie Pritchard, 18, from Sydney is one of the Australians hurt in the incident and is still in hospital with three other women.

She has spinal injuries, concussion and cuts, and says the boats were overloaded and travelling fast when they hit head on.

Ms Pritchard says one of the boats had no lights on.

"The next thing I remember is being under water and thinking I'm going to die, I'm going to drown," she said.

Police say the boat's registration and the skipper's licence expired in March.

Ms Pritchard's grandfather says all four Australian women were from the same Christian church in Oxford Falls, on Sydney's north shore.

Peter Pritchard says his grand-daughter is doing better than the other three women - Vanessa Kenny, Natalie Hensby and Chloe Bucknell - who are more seriously injured.

"She's recovering, that's the most important thing," he said.

"You must feel sorry for the other parents, the shock is just incredible."

Drew Oliver, a friend of Ms Pritchard, says her father is making his way to Thailand on a flight organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Oliver says the passengers were thrown into the ocean when the boats collided.

"The vessels collided head-on and the girls with Katie were thrown into the water and they were retrieved from the water last [Sunday] night," he said.

Thai officials say all passengers who were on the two boats are accounted for.

An Australian Foreign Affairs spokesman says the the Australian embassy in Bangkok is working with Thai authorities to determine whether there are any other Australians involved.


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