Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsizes at sea

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant has capsized in the South China Sea less than a week after it was towed out of the city, its parent company said Monday.

The restaurant experienced “adverse conditions” on Saturday as it passed the Xisha Islands, also known as the Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea, and water entered the ship and started toppling it, according to Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Ltd.

The company said no one was injured, but efforts to save the ship failed and it capsized on Sunday.

“Because the water depth on site is more than 1,000 meters, it is extremely difficult to carry out salvage operations,” the statement said.

It said the company is “deeply saddened by this accident”.

Standing almost 80 meters long, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant has been a landmark in Hong Kong for more than four decades, serving Cantonese dishes to more than 3 million diners, including Queen Elizabeth II and Tom Cruise.

It closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and laid off all its staff. Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said the restaurant became a financial burden on its shareholders, with millions of Hong Kong dollars spent on inspection and maintenance even though it was not in operation.

The restaurant was towed last Tuesday. The company said it planned to move it to a cheaper location where maintenance could be performed.

It said the ship had been thoroughly inspected by ship engineers before departure and fencing had been installed and all relevant approvals had been obtained.

“The company is now getting further details of the accident from the towing company,” the statement said.