Overloading to blame for ship overturn in central Vietnam: official
The cruise ship Thao Van 2 salvaged by competent authorities after capsizing on June 4, 2016 in the central city of Da Nang.
Huge overloading has been identified as the cause of an incident in which a cruise ship capsized in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang on Saturday night, while local port authorities are being held accountable for letting the boat operate without a license.
The cruise ship Thao Van 2 submerged in the Han River about 10 minutes after its departure at around 8:30 pm, with most passengers being brought to safety, including four Malaysians.
Three missing victims were found dead on Sunday afternoon, including two young children, who were siblings from the northern province of Bac Kan, and a man from south-central Binh Dinh Province.
Tran Dinh Quynh, chief officer of the municipal People’s Committee, said that the cruise ship was previously a fishing boat, adding that its operator had not been granted a license to transport passengers after upgrading it to a tourism vessel.
The captain had also not notified local port authorities and relevant agencies prior to the ship’s departure, Quynh continued.
Overloading was the primary cause of the accident, according to Khuat Viet Hung, vice chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee.
While initial information showed that there were 46 people aboard the cruise ship, a later investigation revealed that a total of 56 people were on the craft before the incident.
The boat was only designed to carry 28 people, including passengers and crew members, Hung stated.
He added that the operator did not offer guidance to passengers as per the waterway traffic safety regulations. The passengers were not reminded to wear life jackets either.
Travelers were not properly seated on the deck, resulting in many gathering on one side of the boat, causing the ship to lose its balance and overturn.
Le Chi Cong, captain of the boat, is being held in custody while its owner, Vo Quoc Hung, has also been summoned by officers to support the investigation.
Da Nang port authorities must also take responsibility for the accident as the cruise ship was illegally operating just 50 meters away from their office, without any action from officers, Hung stated.
During a press meeting on Sunday afternoon, Huynh Duc Tho, chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said that a probe would be carried out to determine whether competent authorities abetted the unlawful operation of the ship.
Tho said that he would try to understand why the boat had been able to operate without any legitimate permit.
“How they covered up their activities and which port officer was on duty at the time of the accident will be brought to light. Those responsible will be severely punished,” the chairman underlined.
According to Le Van Trung, director of the Da Nang Department of Transport, 30 boats are registered for tourism transport in the city, three of which, including the Thao Van 2, were not granted the license.
Prime minister’s order
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered an investigation into the case.
“This is a serious case and a common violation of waterway traffic safety with horrible consequences,” PM Phuc assessed.
“A probe must be carried out and those responsible must be sternly penalized as per the law to prevent any similar offences from happening,” he said.
The head of government met with family members of the deceased victims on Sunday and visited the injured passengers being treated at several hospitals in Da Nang.
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