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Dozens of sailors missing after Thai navy ship sinks

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(Al Jazeera) Thailand’s military has dispatched helicopters, planes and ships to rescue dozens of sailors missing after a navy vessel sank during a storm in the Gulf of Thailand.

The HTMS Sukhothai was carrying 106 people when it went down late on Sunday night, according to the Royal Thai Navy.

By midmorning on Monday, 75 sailors had been rescued and 31 were still in the water, the military said. At least three of the survivors were “seriously injured”, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported.

The HTMS Sukhothai had taken on seawater after it was hit by strong waves, causing it to tilt to one side, according to the Bangkok Post. The corvette class ship, which had been in use since 1987, also suffered a power blackout.

The vessel sank at 11:30 pm local time (16:30 GMT) on Sunday.

The Thai navy said it had dispatched three frigates and two helicopters with mobile pumping machines to assist the disabled ship by removing seawater, but the rescue efforts were unsuccessful due to strong winds.

A picture shared by the navy showed the grey vessel flipped over onto its side, while another image on a scanner screen showed the bow of the ship and a gun turret poking out above the waterline as it went down.

The 31 sailors still missing are all believed to be afloat in the stormy sea, wearing life jackets, the Bangkok Post reported.

The incident occurred while the warship was on patrol at sea 32km (20 miles) from the pier at Bangsaphan district in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

While northern and central parts are seeing their coldest temperatures of the year, far southern Thailand has been experiencing storms and flooding in recent days.

Ships had been warned to stay ashore during the inclement weather.

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