At least 2 dead, 20 injured in Thailand tour boat collision

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BANGKOK (AP) — Two speedboats packed with 62 tourists collided Wednesday off the coast of southern Thailand, leaving at least two dead and more than 20 injured, police said. The fatalities were identified as Chinese.

The crash was the latest incident to mar the country’s image as a tourist paradise, and the third crash in two weeks involving boats that shuttle vacationers to Thailand’s resort islands.

The collision involved a boat carrying 36 passengers and another with 26 traveling near the popular island of Phuket, said Lt Col. Prasert Srikhunrat, deputy superintendent of Phuket’s marine police.

He said most of the passengers were Chinese tourists, including the two who died. He did not immediately have more details about other nationalities or the cause of the crash.

Tourism is a key source of revenue for Thailand, which received nearly 30 million foreign visitors in 2015.

Boat and tour bus crashes and other accidents involving tourists have become common, as more and more foreigners visit the country known for lax enforcement of laws and safety regulations.

On Sunday, a speedboat near the resort island of Koh Samet rammed into an anchored boat, injuring 30 people on board, according to Thai news reports.

In late May, another speedboat carrying 32 tourists capsized in rough waters off Koh Samui, leaving three tourists dead. The victims were from Britain, Germany and Hong Kong.

In February, two Russian tourists were badly injured while scuba diving off Phi Phi island in Krabi province, when a speedboat’s propeller severed one of the men’s legs and cut deep gashes into the other man’s leg.

A 52-year-old French woman died after being struck by a boat while swimming in waters reserved for snorkelers near an island off Krabi province.