Phuket (Thailand) : At least 40 people have been found dead and dozens are still missing after two boats carrying tourists capsized in rough seas off the Thai holiday island of Phuket, the government said on Friday.
The Thai Prime Minister's Office offered condolences to the families of the victims, saying that the Royal Thai government "will exert all efforts to find those still missing and provide support to all survivors of this tragic event".
One of the vessels -- the Phoenix PC Diving ship -- was carrying 105 passengers, including Thai crew members, tourist guides and 93 tourists -- many of them Chinese holidaymakers. It went down in bad weather on Thursday, the BBC reported.
The Chinese Embassy in Thailand said that 16 Chinese were killed, 78 were rescued and 33 tourists were still missing in the accidents.
The vessels went out despite a severe weather warning, which was still in place for much of the country's southern coast on Friday, according to the Thailand Meteorological Department.
Divers had made four underwater searches before the weather conditions made it too dangerous, the BBC reported. They will resume the search on Saturday.
According to reports, another 39 people were saved when the second boat, carrying mostly European passengers, overturned at about the same time. An investigation was ordered into why the boats went out despite severe weather warnings.
Thailand is bracing for the arrival of the monsoon season, which will bring heavy rain and storms to the area.