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Survivors recall desperate attempts to escape from capsized boat in Hoi An

By Dac Thanh, Nguyen Dong   February 26, 2022 | 07:02 am PT
Two men were emotional recalling their escape from a capsized tourist boat in Hoi An Saturday, mourning how they failed to save their loved ones, who were among 13 deaths.

Pham Ngoc Hung from HCMC was visiting Hoi An with his wife and six other people. They took a speedboat tour with Phuong Dong Company to Cham Islands on Saturday morning. On the way back to Hoi An at around 2 p.m., the boat capsized and five people in his group died, including his wife.

"My wife is dead, my three children have lost their mother," Hung, 50, said as he was waiting to receive her body at Hoi An General Hospital.

Pham Ngoc Hung waits ti receive his wifes body at Hoi An General Hospital after they were caught in a boat capsizing incident, February 26, 2022. Photo by Dac Thanh

Pham Ngoc Hung waits to receive his wife's body at Hoi An General Hospital after they were caught in a boat capsizing incident, February 26, 2022. Photo by Dac Thanh

When the accident happened, it was dark, the waves were strong and everyone was wearing life jackets, Hung said.

When they were three km from shore, the waves got stronger and the boat, which was moving fast, capsized.

"Some children at the tip of the boat were thrown into the water. Others were trapped inside the boat."

The speedboat was afloat but flooded, Hung said, adding that he had to kick the window very hard to get out.

He tried to cling onto the boat but it was slippery, so he moved to the tip.

After nearly 10 minutes, he was rescued by another boat by Phuong Dong, which was sailing just behind, but he was unconscious at the time from being frozen and swallowing too much water.

He received first aids after being brought to shore before being sent to a hospital.

"My wife and all the people trapped inside the boat were killed. Only those who could get out survived," Hung said.

Nguyen Tan Hiep, 50, another tourist from HCMC, said he had tried to dive deeper to escape from the capsized boat, but it was difficult with the life jacket.

"I had to try several times before I could reach the window and get out."

Nguyen Tan Hiep recalls a boat capsizing incident that killed his wife and 12 other people in Hoi An, February 26, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Nguyen Tan Hiep recalls a boat capsizing incident that killed his wife and 12 other people in Hoi An, February 26, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Hiep said he was a sailor and is a good swimmer.

After getting out, he tried to save his wife but could not find her. He managed to pull four people out of the water but they were all dead.

"They were killed from being trapped, and oil spill from the boat was another factor," Hiep said.

The speedboat was carrying 39 people when it was engulfed by strong waves. 34 people have been taken back to shore, but 13 of them were confirmed dead by 6:30 p.m.

Five people including two children remain missing.

 
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