Ha Long Bay safety investigated

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ha long bayA series of fatal incidents in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay has led to increased scrutiny of local authorities. On 3 October, a fatal collision between Dong Phong 2 tourist boat QN 1402 and the Paradise QN 6688 led to the death of five Taiwanese nationals, while 2011 saw two incidents, one in February and one in May, in which both foreign and local tourists died when the boats on which they were travelling sank. Concerns have now been raised about safety at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, including questions about maritime traffic management – which is said to be ‘chaotic and unreglated’ – and whether safety measures on the boats themselves are appropriate. The bay is three hours east of Vietnamese capital Hanoi, and a very popular spot for tourists, but many of the cheaper vessels are said to be in poor condition (although new boats are now required to be made of metal rather than wood) – and, according to survivors’ accounts, the smaller of the two boats involved in the incident on 3 October was not carrying life jackets. “There should have been better safety procedures,” said Taiwanese survivor Michael Chai. “On the big boat and our boat, there were no medical or emergency supplies. How can you run a company like this?”

A meeting has been called by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to address safety concerns.