Widespread violations by Ha Long Bay tourism boats: inspectors

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An investigation has found widespread violations including technical errors and unlicensed staff among many tourism boats providing overnight stay services in a Long Bay, the VnExpress news website reported Monday.

 

The news source quoted investigators as saying that violations also included inoperative or insufficient number of lifejackets, and improper design to stop water.

 

Agencies in the northern province of Quang Ninh launched the inspection on February 19, targeting 135 of 151 boats currently operating in the bay.

 

The inspection followed a major accident that killed 12 tourists, including ten foreigners, when the boat they were sleeping in sank suddenly the day before.

 

Following the findings, investigators have suggested various measures to enhance safety like asking captains on tourism boats to have higher-level licenses and experience of at least three years.

 

Boats should also be  equipped with adequate safety and rescue facilities as well as other security equipment, they said.

 

Quang Ninh authorities are studying the suggestions, and are expected to introduce a new statute on managing tourism boats next month, a local official said.

 

The accident happened just before dawn when Truong Hai 06 boat, which was carrying 21 tourists and six crew members, sank. It was then anchored in the bay.

 

Police later placed the boat's captain and chief engineer in custody, as initial investigations showed that the valve that allows water to come into the boat to cool the engine wasn't closed properly before the crew went to bed.

 

Truong Hai Company, which owns the boat, meanwhile, was suspended.

 

Known for its stunning limestone cliffs in a large body of backwaters, Ha Long Bay - a UNESCO World Heritage site, attracted more than two million visitors last year.

 

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