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Vietnam police blame human error in boat sinking

 Vietnamese workers try to hoist the sunken vessel, partially seen at center, out of the water at the famed Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh provinc...
 Vientamese crews check the tour boat after it is pulled from the water at the famed Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh province, Vietnam Friday, Feb....
 A tour boat, bottom,  is pulled from the water at the famed Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh province, Vietnam Friday, Feb. 18, 2011,  a day after ...

Vietnam Tourist Boat Sinks

Vietnamese workers try to hoist the sunken vessel, partially seen at center, out of the water at the famed Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh provinc...

Vietnam Tourist Boat Sinks

Vientamese crews check the tour boat after it is pulled from the water at the famed Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh province, Vietnam Friday, Feb....

Vietnam Tourist Boat Sinks

A tour boat, bottom, is pulled from the water at the famed Ha Long Bay in northern Quang Ninh province, Vietnam Friday, Feb. 18, 2011, a day after ...

Vietnamese police said Sunday that human error was to blame for the sinking of a tour boat in Ha Long Bay that killed 12 sleeping passengers, and the vessel's captain and a crew member have been arrested.
A valve that allows water to come into the boat to cool the engine was left open while the vessel was anchored for the night, Quang Ninh provincial police spokesman Le Thanh Binh said. The engine was turned off, preventing a pump from running to push the water out, he said.
Eleven foreign tourists from nine countries were among those who drowned when the boat went down in the scenic bay last week.
"The initial police investigation showed that the man in charge of the boat engine forgot to close the valve that allowed water in to cool the engine before he, the captain and other crew went to bed," Binh told The Associated Press by telephone. "When they found out about that, it was too late."
The tour boat was inundated with gushing water when it went down about 5 a.m. Thursday, trapping passengers in their overnight cabins. All of the Vietnamese crew survived, along with nine foreign tourists. But 11 vacationers from the U.S., Britain, Australia, Japan, Russia, France, Sweden and Switzerland drowned along with their Vietnamese tour guide.
It was Vietnam's deadliest tour boat accident since the country opened up to foreign visitors 25 years ago.
Boat captain Nguyen Van Minh, 22, and Do Van Thang, 27, who was in charge of the engine, were arrested Saturday, Binh said. The two, along with three other crew members, had been detained earlier for questioning.
State-controlled Thanh Nien newspaper quoted an anonymous source as saying Truong Hai Co., which owned the "Dream Voyage," was previously named the Bien Mo Co. It owned a boat that sank in Ha Long Bay in September 2009, killing three foreigners and two Vietnamese during heavy rains. The company changed its name four months ago, the paper said.
Binh said the boat from Thursday's incident would be towed to shore, where it would be raised on a beam for a full police examination.
"This is an accident causing very serious consequences," he said. "Those responsible will be dealt with seriously in accordance with the law."
The bodies of 10 of the foreign victims have been released to their families and embassies, hospital officials said, adding that the body of one of the two American female victims was expected to be handed over Monday. The body of the Vietnamese tour guide has also been released to his family.
About 2.5 million people, half of them foreigners, cruise Ha Long Bay each year to experience the dramatic 1,600 jagged limestone formations that jut out of the sea, forming tiny islands in the Gulf of Tonkin near the Chinese border.
Day cruises are offered, but many tourists opt to sleep on traditional wooden boats equipped with cabins, ranging from budget to luxury accommodation.


Updated : 2021-10-21 20:28 GMT+08:00