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Entire hydrofoils fleet unsafe

Update: February, 21/2014 - 08:18

HCM CITY (VNS)— All nine hydrofoils operating on the HCM City-Vung Tau route pose a threat to passenger safety, an official inspection has found.

The inspection, launched following an accident last month when a hydrofoil suddenly burst into flames, detected multiple faults in the entire fleet of nine hydrofoils.

In operation for over 20 years, all the boats had hulls in "extremely bad condition" in addition to many other technical problems, inspectors said in a report.

They also detected oil leaks in four of the nine hydrofoils and broken fuel pipes in six. Three vessels were found having water leaks in the cockpit, cabin and engine compartments, and four of them carried poor quality lifebuoys.

The hydrofoils operated between HCM City and the coastal city of Vung Tau.

The inspectors have recommended that the Ministry of Transport carry out a comprehensive inspection of the hulls and have all technical problems fixed before the vessels can resume operations. They have also advised HCM City authorities to inspect fire safety facilities on all tourist boats, floating restaurants and other passenger vessels in the city.

Last month, a hydrofoil carrying 92 people, 85 passengers and seven crew members, was travelling from HCM City to Vung Tau when it suddenly burst into flames.

The captain of the Vina Express hydrofoil attempted to control it and steer it to the shores of the Sai Gon River in District 7.

The accident forced all the passengers to jump into the river to escape from the fire. Luckily, they were all rescued by passing ships and rescue teams.

The final conclusions regarding the accident will be announced at the end of this month.

From 2008-13, there have been two cases in which the hydrofoils have caught fire. During this period, engine failures, waves breaking glass windows and hydrofoils running aground have been fairly common occurrences, the inspectors' report said.

The hydrofoils have for long carried a reputation for not meeting safety standards, it added. —VNS


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