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177 rescued from stormy sea in Thailand

Tourists, hotel employees rescued from stormy sea off Thailand's Phuket island

Bangkok, Aug 09 (UITV/IANS) - A total of 177 people including tourists were rescued to safety from a rough sea off Thailand's popular resort island of Phuket, authorities said on Thursday.

Of the rescued people on Wednesday night, 161 were foreign tourists while 16 others were Thai hotel staff, reports Xinhua news agency.

They were moved to safety from Koh Racha islands off the southeastern coast of Phuket by a navy patrol boat.

Tour boats and other small vessels which may have shuttled those tourists from Phuket to Koh Racha islands had been strongly advised not to venture out to the sea due to strong winds and high tides during the monsoon season.

The tourists had spent days on the islands during which the sea had been relatively calm and had not been expected to get stormy.

Last month, Phoenix, a luxury tour boat, capsized near Koh Hae island off the northeastern coast of Phuket due to high tides in a rough sea, killing 47 Chinese tourists.

Thai officials said the sunken boat would be salvaged before August 12 if weather permits.