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Ha Long Bay Tourists Claim Crew Abandoned Burning Boat

Two German tourists are claiming the crew aboard their Ha Long Bay cruise ship did nothing to save passengers after a fire broke out on the vessel's top deck.

However authorities reject the Germans' claim, reports Thanh Nien, saying that five of the crew members assisted police in extinguishing the blaze.

Speaking to German news outlet Bild, 27-year-old Martin Thordsen and 24-year-old Dorothy Bielfeldt were among the 19 passengers aboard vessel QN-4239, which caught fire on Christmas Day due to a short circuit.

By their account, the ship's crew abandoned its passengers once the flames grew too big to contain. On board, Thordsen said, crew members at first attempted to put out the blaze, however when it became clear that the fire extinguishers on the ship were empty, passengers were left to fend for themselves with nothing but old life jackets aboard the aging vessel. Thordsen feared the ship's gas tanks would explode due to the fire.

The way the Quang Ninh police tell it, however, QN-4239's crew was unable to put out the fire not because of empty extinguishers but due to strong winds, which prevented them from getting rid of the flames.

In the end, all on board the ship escaped unscathed, including 19 tourists, one tour guide and five crew members. Nearby vessels were able to assist those on board while authorities raced to the scene. Quang Ninh's tourism department also apologized for the incident and promised to launch an investigation into the Germans' claims.

Following the fire, authorities also suspended the operating license of local company Hoa Phuong Do, owner of the ship, while they are investigated and launched a large-scale inspection of 500 tourists boats in Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bays. You know, after a boat caught fire. In the end, 24 boats failed to meet safety requirements and were fined by local officials.

[Photo via Thanh Nien]

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