British tourist killed in Vietnam boat sinking

Image caption,
Survivors reported seeing a wooden plank tear away from the boat

A British tourist was killed when a boat sank at a beauty spot in Vietnam, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Stuart McCormick, 30, from Irvine, Ayrshire, was one of 11 holidaymakers who died along with a Vietnamese guide in Halong Bay.

The wooden boat was touring the Unesco World Heritage Site in Quang Ninh province when it went down.

The Foreign Office said a team from the British embassy went to the scene. Mr McCormick's family have been told.

It is not yet clear why the boat sank, although a local government official said initial information suggested part of the boat had broken without warning.

Halong Bay, renowned for its hundreds of tiny islands and freshwater swamp forests, is one of Vietnam's most popular tourist destinations.

The boat - named Bien Mo (Dream Of The Ocean) - and reported to be a traditional junk on which people were staying overnight, went down before dawn near Titov island.

Vessel overwhelmed

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware that there have been a number of fatalities - including foreign nationals - in the boat accident off the coast of Halong Bay.

"We can confirm that one British national has been killed. Next of kin have been informed.

"A consular team from the British embassy has been on the scene and working with the local authorities and hospitals to establish whether any other British citizens are involved."

The other holidaymakers who died were from the US, Australia, Japan, Russia, France, Sweden and Switzerland.

Another nine foreigners and six locals were rescued from the boat.

Vietnam's foreign ministry said the tourists who survived were two Danes, one German, two Italians, one American, one Australian, one French and one Swiss.

One of them, Stefano Corda, 35, from Palermo, told how in the early hours of the morning they had woken up and that the boat had taken a minute to sink.

"We went to the exit and the boat was almost vertical. I grabbed my friend, we went out, and it was so fast."

Local government official Vu Van Thin said those rescued reported seeing a wooden plank tear away from the boat followed by a gush of water that overwhelmed it, pulling the vessel down.

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