QUANG NINH (VNS) — Authorities in the northern Quang Ninh province have suspended the operation of a cruise service over safety concerns after a boat carrying 16 foreign tourists caught fire.
The incident happened on February 3, when a fire broke out on a Ha Long Pearly Sea Company's cruise ship Bien Ngoc 08 that lay anchored in Ha Long Bay, one of the most popular tourist destinations in South-East Asia. All 16 tourists and nine Vietnamese persons on board were safely evacuated. Images taken by witnesses of the fire showed dark smoke bellowing from the boat that had turned into a torch in the middle of the dark sea.
Reports said that a short circuit had caused the fire.
Quang Ninh People's Committee said that authorities will inspect all boats of the Ha Long Pearly Sea Company and the firm's services can be resumed only when all its boats meet safety standards.
According to its website, the Ha Long Pearly Sea Company is listed among the top eight cruise services in Ha Long Bay, which is a UNESCO world heritage site that attracts about three million visitors each year.
Safety issues over cruise services in Ha Long Bay have come to public attention in recent years. A cruise boat sank in Ha Long Bay in 2011, killing 12 persons. Ten of the victims were foreign tourists.— VNS