A Scottish man who jumped for his life with other tourists off a burning cruise ship in Vietnam -- in an incident caught on video -- said Sunday the scene was “just chaos.”
More than 40 tourists and crew members plunged into the waters of Ha Long Bay on Friday to escape the growing inferno on the docked wooden Aphrodite Cruise ship, the New Zealand Herald reported.
"The crew did their best but they were all very young and obviously overwhelmed by the circumstances,” Michael Doherty told the newspaper. “The passengers were guided to the sun deck of the ship and thereafter given no direction or support. It definitely felt as if it was just chaos.”
He also said official reports suggesting all passengers safely evacuated obviously were incorrect. Video footage shows passengers leaping from the ship as a crowd of onlookers nervously watch.
Doherty said his wife was injured in the fall and may need surgery. He also claimed he learned there were three similar fires on board the ill-fated vessel in the last year, the most recent on Christmas Day.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Aphrodite Cruises said the incident “could be due to careless visitors and staff who smoke and ignore fire prevention.”
Bizarrely, the cruise line also admitted the ship was not equipped to deal with fire, citing comments from the deputy director of fire protection in Quang Ninh, Col. Vu Van Duong.
“Mr Duong said that the wooden ship with many flammable substances, is not equipped with automatic fire-fighting system, so when the fire starts it become very difficult to control,” the statement said.