HA LONG, Vietnam – A naval ship has been dispatched to Co To Island, off the northern Vietnamese province of Quang Ninh, to bring around 1,500 stranded tourists back to shore, a local official said Thursday.
The vessel was expected to reach Co To, which is a district administered by Quang Ninh, in the early afternoon and will make about five to four such journeys to rescue all of the tourists, who have been stuck there since last weekend, district chairman Hoang Ba Nam said.
Co To, a popular attraction in the province home to the famed Ha Long Bay, was lashed by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years last weekend, and vacationers were thus unable to return to shore as all boat operations were suspended.
Do Van Hung, deputy head of Naval Brigade 170, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday vessel No. 634, specializing in search and rescue efforts at sea, has been deployed for the task.
The ship has a load capacity of 450 metric tons and is capable of carrying 300 to 500 people at a time, depending on weather and sea conditions.
It takes the ship around five hours to sail to the island and return ashore.
“Whether the ship has to travel throughout the night must be decided by the military command on Co To,” Hung said.
Those who have to wait until tomorrow to return to the mainland will not have to pay for any extra accommodation costs, Nguyen Cong Hung, an official on the island, said.
Visitors usually stay for a few days on Co To at either hotels or houses that offer homestay service. Food supplies have been scarce in the week to date as transportation from the mainland has been disrupted.
The power, water and communication systems on the island, however, are ensured.
Hotels and other lodging facilities on Co To have cut, or even waived, room rates for the stranded tourists to share their hardship.
Prolonged downpours have led to flooding which has killed 17 people and left six others missing in Quang Ninh, around 180km east of Hanoi, according to local authorities.
Heavy rains will keep battering Quang Ninh and other northern provinces until next Tuesday, possibly together with flash floods and landslides, the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting warned on Thursday.
Downpours will continue raging in the northern region, especially in Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Lang Son and Bac Giang Provinces, and mountainous areas from July 30 to August 4, the center said, adding that this rainy weather will also affect the north-central region.