At least 16 tourists were found dead and one remained missing after a speedboat capsized off Vietnam’s central coast of Hoi An, according to authorities in Quang Nam Province’s Hoi An City.
Nguyen Sinh, party chief of Cua Dai Ward in Hoi An City told local media that eight victims are tourists from Hanoi while the remainders from Ho Chi Minh City and the southern province of Binh Duong, adding that authorities are still searching for the missing victim.
By the time it keeled over, there were 36 passengers and three crew members on board. The boat is en the route from Cu Lao Cham Island to Hoi An, Sinh said.
A search and rescue unit looks for the missing victims off the coast of Quang Nam Province. Photo: The Phong
Around 2:00 pm on February 26, a speedboat operated by the Phuong Dong Company was carrying the 39 people from Hoi An’s Cham Islands to the shore when it was engulfed by large waves about three kilometers away from the Cua Dai Beach.
Thirteen of 34 people brought to shore were confirmed dead on February 27. The remaining five had been declared missing until two more bodies were found as of the evening of the same day.
Everyone on board was wearing life jackets when the accident happened. However, many of the victims were trapped inside the cabin and could not get out after the boat was knocked over by strong waves, the official said.
He added that authorities have also confirmed that the vessel was carrying the exact number of passengers and was not overloaded. Nevertheless, the motorboat has no open door following a standard set by the Ministry of Transport, leaving little space for an emergency exit.
“All the tourists were Vietnamese, including children. About 35 border guard officers, six speedboats, and many fishing and tourist boats were mobilized for the search and rescue efforts. The sea is rough but not too rough for our search and rescue efforts,” Sinh said.
Sea areas from the south-central provinces of Vietnam to the southern provinces and other sea areas of the East Sea have experienced strong winds and rough seas for the past ten days.
Cu Lao Cham Island, about 18 kilometers away from the Cua Dai Port in Hoi An, is a major tourist destination. It takes less than half an hour to reach the island from the shore using motorboats.
Vietnam is seeing an increase in tourism activities after the country recently lifted most of its coronavirus restrictions. Further investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the incident.