Last of 16 bodies found in Vietnam boat sinking

AP News
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Posted: May 23, 2011 1:43 AM
Last of 16 bodies found in Vietnam boat sinking

Vietnamese divers on Monday recovered the final body of the 16 people who drowned when a party boat sank in a river during a boy's birthday celebration, while the boat's captain has been detained for questioning, police and state-owned media said.

An investigation is under way to determine what caused the restaurant-style boat to capsize Friday evening during high winds and heavy rains.

The body of a 9-year-old boy was pulled early Monday from the double-decker boat, which was still submerged in the Saigon River, said Trieu Van Giau, chief of southern Binh Duong provincial waterway police.

Monday's state-run Thanh Nien newspaper quoted police as saying the boat's safety check expired three months ago and that the captain, who did not have a proper operating license, had been detained for questioning.

The boat sank just after it started a cruise down the river to nearby Ho Chi Minh City during a 3-year-old boy's birthday party. The boy, his mother and 6-year-old sister all drowned. Four other children also died, along with four adult Chinese victims.

The boat went down about 100 yards (meters) from the terminal. Some passengers, including the 3-year-old boy's father, managed to swim to shore, and later said the boat had been quickly sucked under by a torrent of water.

Monday's Tin Tuc newspaper reported that authorities in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City would step up safety checks of nearly 10 cruise boats, which also operate dinner cruises.

In February, Vietnam experienced its worst foreign tour boat accident when 11 vacationers from nine countries, along with their Vietnamese tour guide, drowned when the overnight boat they were sleeping on sank in northern Ha Long Bay, one of the country's must-see sites.

Earlier this month, another tour junk went down in the bay while serving 28 French tourists. No one was injured.