Fire destroys homes of remote Thai tribe that amazed scientists with their incredible free-diving skills

This is the harrowing moment dozens of tribal homes belonging to the Monken tribe were destroyed by a fire leaving more than 300 of them homeless.

Flames broke out on the remote Thai island of Surin in the Andaman Sea after a long tail boat's engine exploded. The island is the home to the Moken tribe, or sea gypsies, best known for their incredible free-diving skills reaching depths of 200ft.

But the 300 members of the tribe have now been left homeless with an uncertain future after their homes were destroyed and they were evacuated to a neighbouring island.

Phuttaphong Khuprasit, an officer for the island which is only accessible by a two-hour boat ride, said the blaze spread quickly due to strong winds.

He said: ''We received reports of the fire at approximately 9:30pm and co-ordinated with naval forces to check. When we arrived we found that the fire had burned quickly through 60 homes.

''From inquiries with a tour guide on the island, we believe that one of the villagers had taken a long-tail boat into their wooden home. The engine exploded and the house caught fire. There were 100 children and 300 adults affected.''

The Moken people are a dwindling tribe of Austronesian people who spent thousands of years living nomadic lives as 'sea gypsies', travelling the ocean and hunting for fish.

The fire puts the existence of the tribe at risk, as happened after the 2004 tsunami when many were relocated to the mainland.