Thai speedboat collision injures 33 tourists: hospitals

BANGKOK, June 27, 2010 (AFP) - Two speedboats carrying Thai and Western tourists have collided in the Gulf of Thailand injuring at least 33 people, and two are thought to be missing, hospital staff and media said Sunday.

The accident happened late Saturday night as the boats were ferrying people to and from a full moon party on a beach on Koh Phangan, a monthly event on the island that is popular with thousands of Western backpackers.

Two hospitals on the nearby resort island of Koh Samui told AFP they had treated 33 tourists between them, with nine still in their care including five Australians, two Britons, one Singaporean and one Irish holidaymaker.

The Nation newspaper website said two people were missing and 39 were injured, two of them in a serious condition with head injuries, after the crash threw them into the sea.

At least seven Australians were injured in the accident, according to an Australian foreign ministry spokesman.

"The Australian embassy in Bangkok is working with Thai authorities to determine whether there are any other Australians involved," he told AFP.

Koh Phangan has gained notoriety for the hedonistic monthly full moon event, billed as one of the biggest beach parties in the world, where drugs and alcohol are rife.

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