Boat catches fire in Vietnam hub, passengers jump ship

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A hydrofoil burns after catching fire on the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City Monday afternoon. PHOTO: NHA BAO & CONG LUAN

A hydrofoil carrying 92 people caught fire as it crossed Ho Chi Minh City's Saigon River today, forcing those on board to abandon ship, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

The incident occurred at around 1 p.m. and no injuries have been reported.

Passengers told Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper that the boat set out from HCMC at around 12:15 p.m. and was heading for neighboring Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province.

As the boat passed through District 7, passengers felt hot and started screaming about a fire.

Many frightened passengers jumped into the river, according to eyewitnesses.

They said the fire began at the back of the boat and soon spread throughout the whole vessel.

But the boat's owner didn't call firefighters until half an hour after the fire broke out.

By the time they arrived, the boat had been completely destroyed.


The frame of the hydrofoil sinking after the fire. PHOTO: TUOI TRE

Nguyen Phuong Trinh, a passenger, said she and many passengers did not wear life-jackets when they jumped out of the boat, but no one drowned because the river was shallow at the site of the accident.

Thirty rescue boats were employed to put out the fire and save the passengers, Tuoi Tre reported.

Many fishing boats helped with the rescue, Nguoi Lao Dong reported.

Director of the HCMC Port Authority Nguyen Xuan Sang confirmed to news website VnExpress that no one was injured.


Passengers covered in mud after jumping out of the burning boat into the shallow river. PHOTO: NGUOI LAO DONG

What's left of the boat has been sinking and as of 3 p.m. only half of its body was still above the water's surface, according to Tuoi Tre.

Oil could still be spilling into the water, according to the newspaper.

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