Police in the northern province of Quang Ninh have launched an official investigation into the boat accident that killed 12 tourists, including ten foreigners, on Thursday, according to local authorities.
Investigators so far have summoned six crew members of the Truong Hai 06 boat, management of the Truong Hai Company that owns the boat, and several others.
The local port authority said Friday that all overnight tour operations on the bay had temporarily been suspended. Day cruises were not affected.
"We are going to examine the safety of all the tourist boats in Quang Ninh and Halong Bay after this accident," Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thanh Hung of Quang Ninh province, which includes the bay, told the Agence France Presse.
"We are planning to forbid all night tours on the sea," he said, but he added a formal order will have to come from local government.
Initial information shows that some problem with the boat's building materials sank it at around 5 a.m. as it was anchored in Ha Long Bay, one of Vietnam's most famous tourism destinations.
The boat, left the Bai Chay port at 1.15 p.m. Wednesday, carrying 21 tourists, including 19 foreigners.
Nine people were rescued by local fishermen, and all the crew were safe, Dang Huy Hau, vice chairman of Quang Ninh People's Committee, told a press conference Thursday.
The bodies of 12 victims, meanwhile, were recovered the same day and identified. They are currently being kept at the local Bai Chay General Hospital, waiting to be transferred to the embassies of related countries, including the US and Russia.
The boat was recovered Friday afternoon.
A source told Thanh Nien that the Truong Hai Company was previously named the Bien Mo Company, which owned a boat that sank in Ha Long Bay in September, 2009, killing three foreigners and a Vietnamese. The company changed its name four months ago.
The Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon reported that provincial authorities have temporarily suspended local boats from providing overnight services in Ha Long.
Currently nearly 500 tourist boats are operating in the bay, more than 120 of which are licensed to offer overnight accommodation.
LIST OF THE VICTIMS
|1. Mccormick Stuart (male, 31, British)
2. Pyle Holly Michelle (female, 26, American)
3. Taylor Samantha Kay (female, 22, American)
4. Voropinova Elena (female, 49, Russian)
5. Voropinova Anastasia (female, 24, Russian)
6. Nakahara Junpei (male, 21, Japanese)
7. Noblecourt Laetitia Francoise Monique (female, 28, French)
8. Bankestad Viola Birgitta (female, 20, Swedish)
9. Krok Anna Ellen (female, 21, Swedish)
10. Gerber Baniamin Charly (male, 26, Swiss)
11. Lam Ngoc Chau (male, 32, Vietnamese)
12. Đinh Van Thang (male, 28, Vietnamese)