Tourist raft houses hit by storm in Srinakarin Dam

KANCHANABURI - Three tourist raft houses were hit by a powerful storm in the middle of the lake of Srinakarin Dam in Si Sawat district on Saturday night, forcing 75 tourists to stay overnight on an island.The Thai tourists, who were students of the armys quartermaster school, were safely brought in a ferry from the island back to a pier in Si Sawat district on Sunday morning.A tourist said they rented three raft houses for a sightseeing tour and a party from an operator. The raft houses were then hauled by a motor boat, departing from Tha Kradan pier in Si Sawat district at about 3pm on Saturday.At about 7pm, when the rafts were in the middle of the Srinakarin Dam lake, a powerful storm hit. The waves sent the raft houses up and down, causing the tourists to panic. One of the raft houses hit a big tree stump in the water, causing the power for all of them to go off, and a chaos ensued.The raft house operators told all tourists to wear life jackets and stay in the middle raft house which was the biggest and strongest. They hauled the three raft houses through high waves to an island in the middle of the lake in tambon Mae Krabung and contacted rescue units for help. All tourists were then evacuated to the island where they stayed overnight.Two of the raft houses were badly damaged.Sak Somboonto, the Kanchanaburi governor, instructed Thanon Panpilat, the Si Sawat district chief, to rush to the island to provide assistance to the tourists.A double-decker ferry, with a capacity of take up to 150 passengers, was despatched to the island to take the tourists back to Tha Kradan pier on Sunday morning. They safely landed at the pier after a two-hour ride with all their belongings.Wisarut Inyaem, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailands Kanchanaburi office, said the accident was force majeure. He said his office had stressed to the operators of raft houses to properly follow safety measures and regularly conduct safety drills and this had paid off.He was relieved there were no losses of lives or property during the incident.