Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant sinks in South China sea

Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant is towed away on June 14 after the vessel hit adverse weather and capsized near the Paracel Islands. (Kin Cheung/AP)

The renowned Jumbo Floating Restaurant has sunk in the South China Sea, its owner has revealed, following its departure last Tuesday for an unknown location.

Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises stated on Monday stating, "On Saturday afternoon, while passing the Xisha Islands [Paracel Islands] in the South China Sea, the vessel faced poor weather... Before the ship began to tip, water began to enter it.

Sunday, despite the towing business responsible for the voyage to rescue the vessel, it capsized despite the efforts of the towing business.

No members of the crew were wounded.

"The water depth at the scene is over a kilometer, making salvage operations extremely difficult," it said, adding that it was "very saddened" by the occurrence and requesting additional information from the towing company.

Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises's spokesman told the Post that he was unaware of whether the salvage operation would continue or the financial loss caused by the sinking.

He stated that the restaurant, which cost HK$32 million (S$5.65 million) to build in the 1970s, was on its way to Southeast Asia but declined to reveal its location.

The company asserted that "professional marine engineers were hired to inspect the Jumbo Floating Restaurant's hull and install hoardings on the vessel before its departure last week."

According to the company's statement, the trip had gained all necessary clearances.

The restaurant has been shuttered since early 2020, with Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises citing losses of over HK$100 million due to the Covid-19 outbreak's devastation of the tourism and catering industries, which were already under stress due to 2019's social turmoil.

Last month, the company said it would remove the yacht from Hong Kong seas because it could not pay the maintenance costs necessary to comply with government regulations.

It started when it was required to spend millions of dollars annually on inspections, repairs, and maintenance to comply with licensing and other regulations.

Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises is a subsidiary of Melco International Development, a publicly-traded company.

There were calls for the government to provide financial support to keep the restaurant afloat, at least until a permanent location for the structure could be determined, as it was a popular tourist attraction and a vital component of the government's ambitious plan to revitalize the Southern district.

But Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor ruled it out earlier this month.

"We have made it abundantly clear that the government has no intention of investing money in the restaurant's operation, as we are inept at managing such establishments," she stated.

"We will not impose an impossible idea or one that demands a substantial amount of public funds for implementation just because it was included in the policy address. This circumstance poses no difficulty for me."

The leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Lo Kin-hei, criticized the administration for refusing to offer assistance.

"We pay more than HK$95 million annually for the salaries of the ministers in the new government lineup," said Lo, the former chairman of the Southern district council. "However, Lam stated that the government could not afford to subsidize the restaurant, despite its status as a Hong Kong landmark, and included it in her plan to revitalize the Southern district."

Additionally, Lo urged Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises to provide more information about the incident.

"There are already numerous conspiracies, and some individuals assert that the eatery could not have been towed thus far in one week. "Some also question whether the weather in the Xisha region was terrible," Lo remarked.

The Post has reached out to their office of Lam for comment.

During its peak, the floating restaurant attracted celebrities worldwide, including Queen Elizabeth and actors Tom Cruise and Chow Yun-fat.

In addition to local and international films, the restaurant has been featured in James Bond's The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Jackie Chan's The Protector (1985), Stephen Chow Sing-The chi's God of Cookery (1996), Steven Soderbergh's Contagion (2011), and Infernal Affairs II (2003).

Publish : 2022-06-21 07:56:00

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