Chinese rescue workers prepare equipments before a search operation for missing passengers of a capsized tourist boat at a pier in Phuket, Thailand, July 7, 2018.
The Water Safety Department of the Harbour Department said: "One person is dead, 11 injured (2 have severe injuries, 5 minor) and 56 are missing".
One survivor, a Chinese woman, was rushed to a hospital in Phuket after she was found several kilometers from the boat, floating near the bodies of fellow passengers.
Two other boats, including a yacht, also capsized in the same area last Thursday, but their passengers were brought safely to shore. Chinese tourists are a key driver of the industry, accounting for 9.8 million of the record 35.38 million tourists to visit the country previous year.
"After this evening, if we do not find any more missing in the wreckage, the missing will float to the surface and we will be able to find them", he told reporters.
Authorities expect the death toll to continue to rise.
"It's very hard to see ... it's traumatic, it's tragic but the best thing to do, our job as divers, is to bring back the bodies to their families", diver Philip Entremont told reporters before resuming the search Saturday.
The boat was carrying 105 people, including 93 tourists, majority from China, when it capsized and sank after it was hit by 5-metre (16-foot) waves.
Thai authorities say the death toll in a boat accident off the coast of Phuket has climbed to 17.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Saturday expressed his "sympathies and deepest condolences" to the bereaved families.
In its statement, it added that the Chinese consulate in southern Thailand already had staffers on the scene helping its citizens.Chinese tourists make up the biggest number of foreign visitors to Thailand, their numbers surging in recent years, drawn by the growing popularity of the southeast Asian nation's islands.In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said China's top leaders, including President Xi Jinping, were paying close attention to the incident.
At least 48 passengers were rescued by a fishing trawler when one of the vessels, carrying 97 people, overturned in strong winds and rough seas.
Thai Navy officials help the tourists.
The Chinese embassy in Bangkok said it had requested the Thai government to make all-out rescue efforts, and had sent a team to Phuket to help.
Numerous victims had been on group tours, booked in Phuket and China. Ltd., from Thailand Friday morning. They will resume the search on Saturday. The group had booked their tours to the islands online on their own, said the posting.
All the victims were from the boat "Phoenix", while all 42 people onboard the boat "Serenata" were rescued and safe.
Another boat sailing in the same area also capsized on Thursday but all 35 tourists, five crew and a guide on board were rescued, according to Reuters, citing the Water Safety Department of the Harbour Department.