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In the news clipping posted above, the captain stated that they were hit by a vortex of "red wind".
What's red wind? When I hear vortex, I think of a waterspout.
the captain stated that they were hit by a vortex of "red wind".
...I am the Australian survivor from the Dive Asia liveaboard boat sinking last Sunday night - Michael Sampson.
I gave a TV interview to NBT news when we got back to land, but since then I have not spoken further to the press. PhuketWan.com seems to be reporting things reasonably accurately and comprehensibly - they are currently trying to make contact with me.
It was definitely a small concentrated storm but I don't know anything about a vortex - just very strong wing and rain with lots of thunder and lightning. The rain stopped about 15-20 minutes after the boat went down.
I was in a a cabin on the starboard side of the lower deck (with a small strong porthole) and had been in my bed about 10 minutes when the boat went over. I reckon the boat went on its side in about 10 seconds. I tried to get out of my bed but fell against the wall (which was by then the floor). Then I climbed out through my cabin door and scrambled along the wall of the passageway. I climbed up the the stairwell but the steps were pointed the wrong way, so I shimmied up to about shoulder height and got to the middle deck. I was then able to walk along the wall of the middle deck walkway and out the dive deck into the water.
The rain was driven so hard by the wind that each raindrop stung the skin. There was lightning every 10 seconds or so which enabled us to see what was going on around us. I clung to a mattress from the sundeck for a few minutes but then I spotted a liferaft canister and grabbed hold of some webbing on it. After about 2 minutes the boat capsized completely (hull up) and after another 2 or so minutes it sank.
We inflated two liferafts (each rated for 20 people) with 10 in mine and 13 in the other. We lashed the two liferafts together immediately. We could see the flashing lights of two life preserver rings away off in the distance, and one of the dive masters Christian just jumped off the liferaft and swam out them. He brought back four people to the liferafts, and he is a true hero. I think he saved those four peoples' lives.
The night in the liferaft was cold and uncomfortable. We let off a flair when we saw a sailing boat in the distance but it didn't come to us. We could see lights on the coast and we thought that we would see planty of boats in the morning. When the sun came up there were no boats at all - we could see Patong and Karon in the distance but otherwise it was just empty sea. As the day wore on it started getting really hot and we only had about 2 litres of water for 23 people. Eventually we spotted a boat in the distance and flashed it with the mirror from the survival kit. The fishing boat came to us at about 1:00 PM and immediately offered us fresh water and food. The Dive Asia guys used the fishing boat captain's mobile phone to call the Dive Asia office, who then contacted the Navy. A Marine Police patrol boat came to get us about one and a half hours later. The Marine Police also gave us water and food.
Most of the people who died were on the starboard side on the middle deck where they have nice big windows to look out. The boat rolled onto its starboard side and another survivor told me that the windows burst and it flooded those cabins (she survived by taking a breath of air trapped inside her cupboard and swimming out the window).
I'll conclude by saying that Dive Asia is a very professional outfit. It was a new boat, well-maintained and seaworthy. The dive staff in particular were tremendous throughout the ordeal and I will dive with them again.