The Thai Army has placed its helicopters on standby to support the Thai Navy in the search and rescue operations for the 23 crew members from HTMS Sukhothai who are still missing.

Army Commander-in-Chief General Narongpan Jitkaewtae said Wednesday that, although most of the army choppers are not suitable for air-sea rescue operations, he has placed the Army’s air ambulance, troop carrier and transport aircraft on standby, in case there is a request for help from the Navy.

To date, the Royal Thai Air Force has sent a fixed-wing plane and a helicopter to support the Navy’s search and rescue operations.

Commenting on the sinking of HTMS Sukhothai, which had been in service for more than 30 years, the army chief said that all the crew on board, from the commander down, had fulfilled their responsibilities by the book adding, however, that the accident and the bad weather are not always predictable.

He also said that the Thai armed forces, whether they be army, navy or air force, conduct training on a regular basis, so they are acquainted with the tasks that they are to perform.

Two more crew members, one injured and the other dead, were airlifted to the Bang Saphan deep-sea port in Prachuap Khiri Khan this morning (Wednesday). The injured man was then taken to the district hospital. Identification of the decedent is underway.

Relatives and families of missing crew have been camping at Bang Saphan port, waiting for the return of their loved ones.

A nurse at the district hospital, Sutthada Sunthornpong, said that 21 people have sought psychiatric counselling and most of them were found to be suffering from stress.

Three centres have been set up in Bang Saphan district. One is to help families and relatives of the missing crew members, another is responsible for identifying the dead and the third is providing accommodation to the families and relatives.

76 crew members have been rescued, six were found dead and 23 are still missing after the accident on Sunday.

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