Vietnam authorities suspend tour company over deaths

Citing negligence, Vietnam authorities suspended a tour company responsible for the deaths of 12 tourists killed last month when the boat they were sleeping on sank.

AZ Queen Company had clients from nine different countries including Americans, Austrailans and Britons sleeping on a tour boat anchored in Ha Long Bay near the VietnamChinese border when the aged vessel suddenly filled with water and sank February 17.
The unlicensed tour company was fined 15 million dong ($700) and was ordered to suspend all domestic and international tour services for operating without a license, Mai Tien Dung, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism told the Associated Press.

The boat’s captain and a member of the crew were arrested on the charge of negligence causing serious consequences, a charge that can carry a jail term of up to 12 years.

“The initial police investigation showed that the man in charge of the boat engine forgot to close the valve that allowed water in to cool the engine before he, the captain and other crew went to bed” said police spokesman Le Thanh Binh.

This is not the first time such an event has occurred in Vietnam. 40 people were killed on when a crowded river boat sank in central Vietnam in January of 2009.

In September of 2009, the same company was involved in a sinking that resulted in the death of three tourists during a heavy rain storm.

Flickr photo by flydime