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A boat carrying 150 Thai Muslims capsized in the ancient tourist city of Ayutthaya in Thailand killing 12 people and injuring several, officials said on Sunday.

The accident occurred on the Chao Phraya river in Ayutthaya, a Unesco World Heritage site located some 80km north of the Thai capital Bangkok.

Rewat Prasong, deputy governor of Ayutthaya province, said nearly 37 people were injured in the accident. Rescue operations continued throughout the night as many people are still missing.

Seven women, four men and a boy have died in the boat accident.

The district chief Suchon Phaitirat said the double-decker boat, carrying passengers who were coming back from a religious activity, hit the bank of the river before sinking.

This accident comes right before when Thailand is expecting to welcome almost 33 million visitors this year. Tourism remains one of the main sources of income for the kingdom and visitors keep coming to Thailand throughout the year. According to the records, nearly 30 million people travelled to Thailand in 2015.

Thailand is known as "Land of Smiles", although its reputation has suffered in recent years due to a series of deadly bus and boat accidents, high profile crimes against foreigners and a decade of political instability.

Reports showed that safety standards are sometimes below the international norms in the country.

In last February and June, there were similar incidents of tourists getting badly injured and killed in different accidents.

However, such accidents barely make a dent on Thailand's tourism industry. In August, a wave of deadly explosions rocked the central and far south of Thailand. Four Thai people were killed and several were wounded including foreigners but the incident did not have any negative impact on the tourism industry.

The police have blamed the bombings on Muslim Malay insurgents operating in Thailand's far south. But recently, the Thai Defence Minister, Prawit Wongsuwan contradicted the police statement and said the series of bombings in Thai tourist towns were not linked to Muslim separatists.

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