‘Strong waves’ cause fatal motorboat crash off Hoi An: police

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Colonel Vo Van Minh, deputy head of the investigation agency of the Quang Nam provincial police department, made the announcement on Tuesday regarding the accident last Saturday which saw the speedboat operated by the company Phuong Dong from the Cham Islands off Hoi An town in Quang Nam to the shore engulfed by large waves about three kilometers from Cua Dai beach.

Investigators had taken testimonies from 15 survivors – 12 passengers and three crew members – to reach the preliminary conclusion, Minh said.

Before returning to shore, the speedboat was checked by border guards.

The boat’s owner and captain provided enough qualified paperwork to operate, investigators said.

For now, they are gathering more evidence and working with related units to come to a final, official conclusion.

On comments that authorities failed to enforce a sea ban due to rough waters, Colonel Nguyen Quang Nam, deputy commander of Quang Nam Border Guard Command, said the decision should be made on the basis of weather forecasts from the provincial hydrometeorological station.

“According to the weather forecast, the sea area off Hoi An had a northeast wind moving at a speed of 2 to 3 meters per second at the time, which means that the wind would be light and would not affect not maritime operations,” he said.

Nguyen Van Son, president of Hoi An, confirmed that the city will continue to organize tours to the islands, a tourist destination about 18 kilometers from Cua Dai Port in Hoi An, via speedboats.

The city authorities will work with the Cham Islands Tourism Association to handle any cases that may pose safety risks to motorboat excursions on the route and replace any careless captains.

“The city will further investigate the cause of the accident and make a proposal on the type of suitable motorboats to bring tourists from Cua Dai Beach to the islands,” Son said.

The motorboat that capsized on its way from the Cham Islands to Hoi An has returned, February 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

The boat used in the accident was built in 2016 as a motorboat with a roof and an open top to navigate rivers, lakes and enclosed bays. Three years later it was converted to have windows to carry more than 30 passengers and operate more than 12 nautical miles from shore following a regulation from the Department for Transport in 2018.

With the conversion, she was qualified enough to carry passengers back and forth to the Cham Islands.

Prior to 2018, there were around 140 vessels operating on the route between the islands and Hoi An, and after considering them unsafe with open roofs, the ministry decided to establish the rule based on existing lane regulations. national waterways from the coast to the islands.

Following the new rule, many motorboat owners had converted their vessels to fit them with glass windows and an enclosed roof.

However, Hoi An President Son said that before the conversion there had been no fatal accidents involving tourists transported to the Cham Islands.

He said there had been accidents in which the boat had sunk or capsized but in all cases the passengers were floating thanks to life jackets, which made it easy for rescuers to rescue them.

Son reaffirmed what survivors and insiders have been saying in recent days: The converted motorboat was shut down, leaving almost no exit for water once it flooded it and no exit for passengers.

Le Tri Thanh, president of Quang Nam province, said the death toll was too high and “it is necessary to learn the hard way to avoid the same mistake in the future”.

He proposed to examine the impact of the conversion of motor boats.

“When working with the Ministry of Transport and the Vietnam Registry, Hoi An must take into consideration whether the converted boat is still suitable for current conditions,” he said.

For now, the converted motorboats are still confirmed to meet safety standards by Vietnam Register, and Quang Nam is ready to continue using them.

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