Vietnam police blame human error in boat sinking

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Police investigating the sinking of a tourist boat in Vietnam which killed 12 people, including one British traveller, have blamed human error.

Stuart McCormick, 30, an engineer from Irvine in Ayrshire, died in Halong Bay with 10 other holidaymakers and a local guide.

It is understood he was asleep in his cabin below deck when the wooden vessel started taking in water while anchored in the bay on Thursday morning.

Quang Ninh police spokesman Le Thanh Binh said the boat's captain and the crew member in charge of the engine had been arrested.

The initial police investigation showed a valve that allows water to come into the boat to cool the engine was left open while the vessel was anchored for the night.

The engine was turned off, preventing a pump from running to push the water out.

Mr Binh said that by the time the captain and crew woke to find the boat filled with water, it was too late and the vessel sank quickly.

Mr McCormick's father Bryan, 54, said: "We are devastated.

"We had a couple of emails from him from Vietnam and he was having a great time and enjoying himself.

"He had an adventurous spirit. He thought nothing of setting out on this year, he was trying to go round the world and went to Denmark, Japan and Australia.

"He always liked trying new things."

Mr McCormick worked for Hewlett Packard in Erskine, Renfrewshire, before he was made redundant. He was nine months into a year-long trip around the world.

The traveller had spent six months in Australia before heading to Asia.

His father said he was concerned about the safety of the boat.

He added: "We are concerned about the boat. We don't know the proper information yet. We will be following it up."

Survivors reported seeing a wooden plank on the ship ripping away at around 5am, then gushing water inundated the boat and quickly pulled it under near Titov island.

All 12 people who died were in the cabins.

Nine other foreigners and six locals were rescued.

The vessel, owned by Truong Hai Co, was anchored alongside dozens of other cruise boats and weather conditions were said to be calm at the time of the sinking.

The bay is near the Chinese border in the Gulf of Tonkin, about three hours east of the capital Hanoi.