(Update 1: updates number of missing sailors, changes headline, adds preliminary report from the Royal Thai Navy)
Bangkok, Dec 19 (EFE).- At least 31 sailors were missing after a Thai warship sank during a storm in the Gulf of Thailand, the Royal Thai Navy said Monday.
Navy sources told Efe on Monday afternoon that a search and rescue operation was still underway and that 31 sailors had not been found.
The navy has deployed ships, airplanes, and helicopters to locate crew members believed to be adrift in an emergency lifeboat on the rough seas.
The HTMS Sukhothai warship sank just before midnight on Sunday as it was patrolling an area some 37 kilometers (20 miles) east of the Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
According to a preliminary report published on Monday, the vessel “suffered from high waves due to strong winds that blew seawater onto the electric system and knocked out the system, the large engine stopped working and lost control over the ship,” the navy said.
The report added that water flooded the ship, tilting the vessel onto its right side.
“It is a chain of events that lead to the sinking of the ship,” the provisional report added.
Some 106 crew members were on board when they were forced to evacuate the ship urgently, many of whom were injured.
Seventy-five were rescued by another navy vessel, the HTMS Kraburi, which was the first to arrive at the scene of the incident.
The navy posted a video of the corvette sinking and photographs of the rescued crew, all wearing life jackets and aboard an inflatable raft, on its social media channels.
The footage showed the ship, built in the United States and sailing since 1987, leaning onto its starboard side amid strong waves.
Rescue ships can also be seen searching for survivors in the choppy waters.
Another picture taken with a night vision camera showed the bow of the ship and a gun turret protruding out above the waterline as the vessel went down.
This is the first sinking of a Thai warship since World War II when the HTMS Samui sank near Malaysia after being torpedoed by a US submarine, killing 31 sailors, the navy statement added.EFE