Boating company suspended in Ha Long Bay tragedy

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Authorities in the northern province of Quang Ninh Friday suspended a company whose boat sank in an accident that killed 12 tourists in Ha Long Bay the day before.


Truong Hai Company, which is based in Ha Long Town, will be suspended until related agencies reach conclusions about the cause of the accident, said Dang Huy Hau, deputy chairman of the provincial People's Committee.


"The provincial authorities' viewpoint is to strictly and objectively punish people who let the accident happen without exception," Hau said.


It is said that the accident, which killed ten foreigners and two Vietnamese, happened just before dawn due to some problems with the boat's building materials. All six crew members and nine tourists survived.


Also Friday, local authorities set up a team to inspect all boats operating in Ha Long Bay, especially more than 100 that provide overnight accommodations which were suspended after the accident.


A decision on which of these will be allowed to resume services will be taken after the inspections are carried out.


Amendments are being made to tighten provincial regulations regarding the operation of boats in the bay, authorities said.


In the meantime, accident survivors were sent to concerned foreign embassies in Hanoi Friday morning.


Six bodies of the tourists who died were also handed over to the concerned embassies.


The remaining bodies are being kept at the morgue of a provincial hospital to be handed over directly to their families.


Quang Ninh authorities also said they have made ex-gratia payments of VND10 million (US$478.92) each to the survivors, and allocated VND20 million ($957.85) each for relatives of the dead.


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