Halong Bay to beef up safety for traveler

The Quang Ninh People’s Committee and Halong Bay rescue agencies will introduce more safety and injury prevention measures following a spate of accidents on the world heritage bay.

Halong Bay is one of the country’s most popular attractions mainly for its overnight excursions on converted cargo junks that offer cruises on the UNESCO World Heritage bay.

The agencies currently in charge of bay rescues are Halong Bay Management Board Rescue Centre and the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Centre of Diving and Rescue for Underwater Sports. They  lack  staff and equipment to police the cruise boats properly.

The Quang Ninh Province’s Port Department said the provincial People’s Committee needs to provide more resources for the agencies and must step up cooperation between local authorities and concerned provinces to ensure safety on the bay.

Meanwhile, the Waterway Traffic Police of Quang Ninh province suggested increased inspections of boats and more supervision of fishing villages where boats are berthed to ensure they are meeting required safety standards.

The agencies also require the People’s Committee to approve a plan to step up rescue work and fire prevention on Halong Bay before 2015. The provincial People’s Committee deputy chairwoman, Vu Thi Thu Thuy, said the committee had asked relevant local agencies to develop on-site rescue plans as an urgent solution.

The bay has to urgently review its safety and security measures after five Taiwanese tourists were killed when their transfer boat capsised after a collision with a tourist boat in Halong Bay 3 October.

The small vessel was carrying 18 tourists, all Taiwanese and mainland Chinese, back to their ship after a visit to Sung Sot Cave when it collided with the tourist boat, Dong Phong 02, at around 1615.

It sank almost immediately killing a 69-year-old man, three women, and a nine-year-old girl. The remaining 13 passengers were rescued.

The five deceased were identified by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau as Chen Yi-chiu, 69, Lee Hui-chen, 36, Huang Feng-chin, 58, Huang Hsuan-chi, 9, and Kung Fang-ju, 34.

Earlier in the year there were similar disasters. One was on 17 February, when a boat sank killing 12 foreign tourists who were sleeping in their cabins. The boat took on water and sank in seconds. The captain, some crew members and 15 tourists survived. The captain was arrested and charged with reckless behaviour.

On 8 May, there was a collision between two tourists’ boats but there was no casualties reported.

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