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Ha Long Bay safety scrutinized after tragedy

Maritime tragedies in Vietnam have triggered the scrutiny of authorities both abroad and at home.

Last Wednesday, a fatal collision between the boats Paradise QN 6688 and Dong Phong 2 tourist boat QN 1402 resulted in the death of five Taiwan nationals in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

On May 8, 2011, the QN 2070 tour boat with 28 French nationals, one Vietnamese tour guide and 12 sailors aboard sank in Ha Long Bay. On Feb. 17, 2011, 12 tourists from 9 nations died after a tourist boat sank as they slept in the same picturesque bay.

This string of accidents in the short span of a year at the UNESCO World Heritage Site has raised questions over the safety of tourists and what precautions businesses and governments are taking to address this issue.

Questions have been raised regarding the maritime traffic management and safety measures of the boats that are transporting tourists in the heavily visited Ha Long Bay. Survivors of the Wednesday boat collision blamed the accident on the chaotic and unregulated traffic at the pier, according to Vietnamese news Tuoitrenews.

The 65-year-old Chen Tseng Yun Yu, one of the survivors, told a Vietnamese news agency that they traveled to a cave aboard a larger ship but were taken back on the smaller boat because they found traffic so chaotic at the pier. Chen Ming Yu, 59, told Vietnamese media that the misfortune might not have occurred if the pier had been more properly managed.

Vietnam police in the northern province of Quang Ninh have already launched investigations into the cause of the tragic accident. Vietnam police have also announced on Thursday that charges have been filed against the two captains of the boat, Mac Van Duong and Trinh Quoc Hai, involved in the Oct. 3 fatal boat crash in Ha Long Bay. Both captains have been detained and are being investigated for violations of the provisions of waterway transport control.

Minister Mao Chi-kuo said that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications is set to re-examine water safety measures in popular overseas destinations following the boating accidents in the Philippines and Vietnam that killed three and five Taiwanese tourists on Wednesday, respectively.

The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has scheduled a meeting to address safety issues in some of the more popular overseas tourist destinations. The bureau added that some operators of the sightseeing and transportation boats in Ha Long Bay do not stringently abide by the navigation rules.

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