An anchored boat packed with sleeping tourists sank early Thursday in Vietnam’s scenic Ha Long Bay, killing 12 people from nine countries in the deadliest tour boat accident since the country opened to foreign tourism 25 years ago.

The official Vietnam News Agency published the victims’ names and ages, most of them aged 20 to 25. They include a Briton, two Americans, one Japanese, one French, two Swedes, two Russians, one Swiss and one person of Vietnamese origin living in Australia, according to the government.

Another nine foreigners and six locals were rescued by other tour boats in the bay’s emerald waters.

Bai Chay Hospital hospital deputy director, Giang Quoc Duy, said survivors “were in a panic.”

“They were given first aid treatment and have already returned to their hotels,” he said.

Vu Van Thin, chief administrator of Quang Ninh province, said those rescued reported seeing a plank of the wooden live-aboard ship ripping away, followed by gushing water inundating the boat and quickly pulling it down.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga said the incidents was “a very rare and very unfortunate accident.

“I think after this incident, the People’s Committee of Quang Ninh province and tourist companies will have to seriously review the cause of this accident to work out measures to ensure the highest safety for tourists in Ha Long Bay.”

 Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province is a UNESCO recognised world heritage site and is doing its utmost to accumulate 60 million votes to become one of the new seven wonders of the world.

After the third round of voting, dating back from August, 2007, Ha Long Bay now ranks fourth among the 28 finalists in the vote launched by New Open World.


In the first seven days of 2011, Ha Long Bay attracted 56,000 visitors, with 94 percent being foreigners, the largest number ever recorded.

The result of the voting is expected to be made public on November 11.