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Vietnam province suspends ship service after fire in Ha Long Bay

Friday, February 13, 2015, 16:10 GMT+7
Vietnam province suspends ship service after fire in Ha Long Bay
Flames engulf a ship operated by Ha Long Bien Ngoc Co. in this handout photograph provided by Quang Ninh authorities.

The administration of the northern province of Quang Ninh has suspended a local firm from operating its tourism boats in the province’s iconic Ha Long Bay in the wake of a fire on a cruise ship carrying many foreigners earlier this month.

Ha Long Bien Ngoc is not allowed to operate any of its nine ships as of February 9 to serve the investigation into the fire, the Quang Ninh administration said in a fiat released the same day.

A Ha Long Bien Ngoc three-star cruise ship was anchored near Ti Top Island in the UNESCO-recognized bay on February 3 when a fire suddenly broke out aboard.

Twenty-five people, including 16 foreign tourists, were rescued and evacuated to Ti Top Island safely, while the violent fire burned the vessel despite the effort of firefighters. The blaze caused damage of around VND2 billion (US$93,205).

Quang Ninh authorities have assigned relevant agencies to look into the incident, particularly the firm’s fire prevention ability and equipment safety, according to the fiat.

“The company will only be allowed to resume operations after the inspectors confirm that it meets conditions to serve tourists in Ha Long Bay,” the document reads.

Ha Long Bien Ngoc has one excursion ship and eight vessels that offer night accommodation service.

The wooden ship that was burnt had undergone regular maintenance before the incident.

Ha Long Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. 

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