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Thailand warship sinks: Terrifying moment ship capsizes during storm

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Terrifying moment ‘out of control’ Thai warship starts sinking after capsizing during storm – as rescue crews search for dozens of missing sailors

  • HTMS Sukhothai sank off the southern coast of Thailand shortly after midnight
  • Frantic rescue mission now launched, with crews searching for 31 missing sailors
  • Vessel was patrolling Gulf of Thailand when it ran into strong tides and capsized

This is the terrifying moment an ‘out of control’ Thai warship started sinking after it capsized during a storm off the southeastern coast of Thailand. 

Video shows the HTMS Sukhothai dramatically heeling to one side and water surging towards desperate sailors who were clinging to the railings.

The warship was patrolling the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 20 nautical miles from Bang Saphan pier in southern Prachaup Khiri Khan, when it ran into strong tides and suffered an engine malfunction on Sunday night.

A frantic rescue mission has been launched, with three navy vessels and two helicopters still desperately searching for 31 missing soldiers who were thrown into the water when the ship sank. 

Video shows the HTMS Sukhothai dramatically heeling to one side before it sunk off the southeastern coast of Thailand

Video shows the HTMS Sukhothai dramatically heeling to one side and water surging towards desperate sailors who were clinging to the railings

Video shows the HTMS Sukhothai dramatically heeling to one side and water surging towards desperate sailors who were clinging to the railings

Footage shows the HTMS Sukhothai dramatically heeling to one side and water surging towards desperate sailors who were clinging to the railings

‘We are still looking for 31 missing,’ said navy spokesperson Admiral Pogkrong Montradpalin, adding that the ship sank shortly after midnight.

‘The ship’s operating systems stopped working, causing the ship to lose control,’ he said earlier Monday morning.

The overnight rescue mission, involving two seahawk helicopters, two frigates and one amphibious ship, secured 75 of the 106 people onboard, with the remaining 31 forced to abandon ship. 

A rescued crew member interviewed by Thai PBS television said he had to float in the sea for three hours before he was rescued. 

He said that the ship was buffeted by waves 10 feet high as it was sinking Sunday night, complicating rescue efforts. 

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The overnight rescue mission, involving two seahawk helicopters, two frigates and one amphibious ship, secured 75 of the 106 people onboard (left), with the remaining 31 forced to abandon ship (right)

‘The waves are still high and we cannot search for them from the horizontal line. We have to fly the helicopters and search for them from a bird’s eye view instead,’ navy spokesman Admiral Monthatphalin explained. 

The navy posted images and video footage on its Twitter account showing a group of personnel in orange vests in a black inflatable raft moving away from a ship in darkness as waves swelled around it. It was not immediately clear how many rafts had been deployed.

The search-and-rescue operation, which started at 7 am, was ongoing, the navy said in a statement.

Around 11 naval personnel were being treated at Bang Saphan hospital, while some 40 others were being housed at shelters.

Sailors who were rescued from the Thai Navy ship were taken to hospital in an ambulance after their vessel sank

Sailors who were rescued from the Thai Navy ship were taken to hospital in an ambulance after their vessel sank

Around 11 naval personnel were being treated at Bang Saphan hospital, while some 40 others were being housed at shelters

Around 11 naval personnel were being treated at Bang Saphan hospital, while some 40 others were being housed at shelters

The Sukhothai is a U.S.-built corvette in use since 1987 (file picture of the warship)

The Sukhothai is a U.S.-built corvette in use since 1987 (file picture of the warship) 

The Sukhothai, a U.S.-built corvette in use since 1987, was hit by strong waves on Sunday, forcing it to tilt to one side before becoming flooded with seawater, navy spokesperson Admiral Pogkrong Monthardpalin said.

A picture shared by the navy showed the grey vessel flipped over onto its side, while another image on a scanner screen showed the bow of the ship and a gun turret poking out above the waterline as it went down.

The ship had been on had been on its regular patrol to assist any fishing boats needing help in the bad weather when it sank. 

‘Our top priority now is to rescue all the sailors. We will plan to have the ship salvaged later,’ he said. The search was being conducted in an area of 16 square kilometers (6.2 square miles) around the site of the sinking.

While northern and central Thailand are seeing their coldest temperatures of the year, far southern Thailand has been experiencing storms and flooding in recent days. Ships were warned to stay ashore.

The incident marks the first time a Thai warship has sunk since the Second World War when a US submarine torpedoed the HTMS Samui near Malaysia and killed 31 sailors. 

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