Thursday, February 17, 2011
Vietnam tourist boat sinking kills 12
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At least 12 people, many of them foreign tourists, have drowned after a tour boat sank in Halong Bay in north-east Vietnam.
The wooden boat was touring in the Unesco World Heritage Site, in Quang Ninh province, when it went down.
Fifteen people, including nine foreigners, have been rescued.
It is not yet clear why the boat sank, although a local government official said initial information suggested part of the boat had broken without warning.
"So far the rescue team has rescued 15 people, including nine foreign tourists and six crew, and pulled out 12 bodies," Ngo Van Hung, director of the Halong Bay Management Department, told Reuters by telephone.
The bodies have been sent to a nearby hospital for formal identification.
Officials said the foreigners on board were believed to have come from 11 countries including Britain, Sweden, Australia and Japan.
The survivors were pulled from the water by people on other tour boats anchored close by and taken to hospital.
Halong Bay, renowned for its hundreds of tiny islands and freshwater swamp forests, is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations.
The boat, reported to be a traditional junk, appears to have gone down before dawn near Titov island.
Many visitors choose to stay overnight on boats with sleeping cabins, so it is likely those on board were asleep when the accident happened.
Those rescued reported seeing a plank of the wooden boat ripping, followed by a gush of water that overwhelmed it, pulling the vessel down, local government official Vu Van Thin said.
"Crew members tried to stop the water from coming in and alerted the tourists who were sleeping, but the water came in and the boat sank quickly. All of the 12 people who died were in the cabins," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
Posted by flareneld at 5:19 AM