Viet Nam News
ĐÀ NẴNG — The couple seen sitting on the bank of the Hàn River on Sunday, eyes gazing relentlessly into the dark night, seemed to have turned to stone.
Trịnh Tiến Dương and Đặng Thị Xuân were awaiting news of their two children, reported missing after the leisure boat on which the family sailed capsized on the Hàn River in the central city of Đà Nẵng on June 4.
But as the hours dragged by, and additional passengers were rescued from the river, the hopes of seeing their children alive grew slim.
Xuân almost passed out from pain when the news reached her. The bodies of their children: Trịnh Thị Phượng, aged 7 and Trịnh Huy Hoàng, aged 4, were found 20 hours after the sinking, 800m from the site where the craft went down.
The leisure boat, named Thảo Vân 2, was not licensed to transport passengers and was carrying roughly double the weight of its maximal capacity.
Phượng and Hoàng were among the 53 passengers on that ill-fated boat ride, to which their parents treated them as a reward for Phượng’s school year achievements.
They boarded the Thảo Vân 2 for a sight-seeing trip on the Hàn River. But only 15 minutes after it set sail, the boat carrying 53 passengers and three crew members skewed heavily in the middle of the river and capsized almost instantly.
A massive search and rescue mission was launched, mobilizing over 1,000 soldiers, divers, rescue workers and local residents. Almost a day later, 50 passengers had been rescued. Dương and Xuân’s children, along with an adult male passenger, were not among them.
According to witness accounts, the accident could have been avoided had safety rules been enforced.
“When I told the crew members that there were too many people on the boat they told me it’s all right,” Đặng Duy Hưng, a survivor, told the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) Newspaper.
Not quite convinced, Hưng requested life jackets for his family members but was denied and told they were unnecessary.
Another survivor, Nguyễn Thượng Hải from Đắk Lắk, said the boat capsized almost too quickly because the chairs were not bolted to the floor properly, and along with the passengers all listed to one side.
A bag with dozens of life jackets was found after the boat was retrieved from the river, indicating that a large number of passengers were not wearing life jackets in serious violation of safety rules.
This was the second time the Thảo Vân 2 had sunk on the Hàn. In 2014 it sank with ten passengers on board.
The Thảo Vân 2 never reported its operation to the Đà Nẵng Port Authority on the night it capsized, according to Trần Đình Quỳnh, Head of the Đà Nẵng People’s Committee Office.
The Chairman of the Đà Nẵng People’s Committee Huỳnh Đức Thơ vowed to hold all those involved accountable for their negligence and to enforce stricter control of waterway transportation through the city.
Thơ ordered the head of the Đà Nẵng Port Authority, Lê Sáu, and harbourmaster, Nguyễn Công Hiệu, suspended from their duties.
Disciplinary action will also be taken against Col. Nguyễn Thanh Đính, Chief of Đà Nẵng Border Patrol Force and Capt. Đặng Viết Tài, Head of the city’s waterway police force.
All tourist activities on the Hàn River have been suspended until the city’s authorities perform a complete review of safety measures for its transport vessels. — VNS