During her fact-finding mission in the eastern region, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed local officials to tighten safety laws to better protect tourists, after a ferry accident killed six tourists near Pattaya.

Ms Yingluck inspected Bali Hi pier in South Pattaya where she was briefed by authorities about the accident. Provincial authorities were told to speed up investigations into the accident and to devise plans to prevent future maritime disasters.

In the wake of the fatal ferry accident on November 3, Chon Buri Governor Komson Ekachai has previously demanded the Marine Department and Pattaya City boost water-transport safety and put security guards on duty on Koh Lan island around the clock.

Safety drills have also been conducted where members of the public are taught how to survive a sinking boat or ferry. Six people died after the overcrowded tourist ferry they were traveling on capsized near Pattaya. The double-decker ferry tipped over at the beginning of November between Pattaya and Koh Lan. The number of total passengers on board was estimated to be over 100.

Pattaya, known for its racy nightlife, is popular with Chinese and Russians on package holidays. The Russian embassy official in Bangkok said that at least half of the passengers were Russian tourists.

Thailand has been urged to improve its safety standards amid a series of accidents involving tourists. Last month, an Indian woman celebrating her wedding anniversary was killed in a parasailing accident in Pattaya after her parasail failed to launch. In August, two Chinese tourists were killed traveling between Pattaya and Lan Island when their speedboat crashed.

News from NNT