Hong Kong’s famed Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsizes in South China Sea following 'adverse conditions'
HONG KONG: Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant, an ageing tourist attraction that was featured in multiple Cantonese and Hollywood films, has capsized in the South China Sea.
The incident occurred after the vessel "encountered adverse conditions", Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said in a statement on Monday (Jun 20) night.
The famed floating restaurant was towed out of Hong Kong last Tuesday.
"Until Saturday afternoon, when passing Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, the vessel encountered adverse conditions which water soon entered before it began to tip," said the company.
"Despite the efforts of the towing company responsible for the trip to rescue the vessel, unfortunately it capsized on Sunday."
No crew members were injured in the incident.
Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises added that as the water depth at the scene was more than 1,000m, it was "extremely difficult" to carry out salvage works.
"Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited is very saddened by this accident. The company is now getting further details of the accident from the towing company."
In accordance with regulations, the company added that professional marine engineers were hired to thoroughly inspect the hull of the vessel and install hoardings to it before its departure last week. The trip had also obtained all relevant approvals.
According to the AFP news agency, the floating restaurant's owner Melco International Development announced last month that ahead of its licence expiration in June, Jumbo would leave Hong Kong and await a new operator at an undisclosed location.
The restaurant's operators cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for finally closing its doors in March 2020, after about decade of financial woes.
Opened in 1976 by the late casino tycoon Stanley Ho, in its glory days it embodied the height of luxury, reportedly costing more than HK$30 million (US$3.8 million) to build. The 76m vessel could house 2,300 diners.
Designed like a Chinese imperial palace and once considered a must-see landmark, the restaurant drew visitors from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise.
It was also featured in several films - including Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, about a deadly global pandemic.
Melco said last month the business had not been profitable since 2013 and cumulative losses had exceeded HK$100 million.
It was still costing millions in maintenance fees every year and about a dozen businesses and organisations had declined an invitation to take it over at no charge, Melco added.
On Jun 1, Jumbo's kitchen boat listed into the water after a suspected hull breach, tilting almost 90 degrees, said AFP.
Jumbo's departure from Hong Kong was met with regret and nostalgia from many Hong Kong residents.
Some online commentators described pictures of the floating palace sailing across a charcoal grey ocean towards the horizon as a metaphor for Hong Kong's future.