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Two More Saved From Capsized Oil Ship; Four Bodies Found

November 6, 1989

SONGKHLA, Thailand (AP) _ Two crewmen from a U.S. oil drilling ship that capsized in a typhoon in the Gulf of Thailand were rescued Monday after being adrift for 50 hours in their life jackets.

Four more crew members, including an American, were found dead in the ship Monday, and 85 were missing.

The 5,373-ton Seacrest, owned by the American company Unocal, capsized early Saturday when Typhoon Gay lashed the Gulf of Thailand with winds up to 100 mph. There were 97 people aboard, including seven Americans.

Six survivors have been picked up, and six bodies have been found. None of those rescued is American.

Unocal said a management team from its Los Angeles headquarters had begun an investigation. Some families of crewmen have alleged the ship was too top- heavy and that there was not enough warning of the typhoon.

″The group is looking into the accuracy and timeliness of the weather reporting and the action taken by Unocal Thailand and the Great Eastern Drilling and Services, Inc., the ship’s operators, before, during and after Typhoon Gay hit the area,″ Unocal said.

Graydon H. Laughbaum, president of Unocal Thailand, said the 10-year-old Seacrest was inspected for seaworthiness this year and recertified in March.

″The eye of the typhoon passed directly over the Seacrest. The typhoon came up very suddenly,″ he said.

The survivors were taken by helicopter to a Unocal operations base and then taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Unocal Thailand, a subsidiary of the American company, said divers recovered four bodies from the wheelhouse area of the Seacrest on Monday. Two bodies were also found Sunday. It identified one of the dead as Kent Nolen, 27, an assistant driller from the United States, but did not provide a hometown.

″We will carry on with the search as long as we think there may be some people alive,″ said Boonrich Chaiyean, deputy commander of the Thai navy base at Sonkhla, the main base for the search and rescue operation.

In addition to the seven Americans, the Seacrest carried 64 Thais, five Britons, four Australians, three Filipinos, three Singaporeans, two Malaysians, two Indonesians, two Canadians, two Danes, one West German, one New Zealander and one Norwegian.

After hitting the gulf, Typhoon Gay swept inland across the peninsula of southern Thailand, where at least 30 people were killed.

The storm headed toward India on Monday, packing winds of 90 mph.

Press Trust of India, quoting the Indian Meterological Department, said the cyclone was about 560 miles southeast of Visakhapatnam on the eastern Indian coast.

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