Hong Kong’s Jumbo floating restaurant sinks at sea

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(CNN) – A prestigious floating restaurant in Hong Kong has sunk, just days after being taken to sea on its way to an obscure destination.

Jumbo KingdomThe three-story ship, the exterior of which was built in the style of the Chinese royal palace, was towed away by a tugboat last Tuesday after nearly half a century of moor in the southwestern waters of the city.

Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprise Ltd said in a statement on Monday that the restaurant’s main boat was traveling to an unknown shipyard on Saturday after completing “adverse conditions” near the Paracel Islands (also known as Zisha Islands) in the South China Sea.

Jumbo Kingdom in Hong Kong, filmed in 2014.

Jumbo Kingdom in Hong Kong, filmed in 2014.

Bruce Yan / South China Morning Post / Getty Images

The boat sank more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), making rescue operations “extremely difficult,” the statement said.

It added that the Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprise was “deeply saddened by the accident” and was working to gather more details from the towing company. No crew members were injured.

On Tuesday, the Hong Kong government asked owners for a report on how the ship sank, public broadcaster RTHK reported, amid calls for a more thorough investigation into the circumstances of the sinking.

News of the sinking was met with online outcry, with many Hong Kong social media users mourning the untimely end of one of Hong Kong’s most famous landmarks.

Some posted art showing the restaurant underwater, while others shared farewell messages or fond memories of past visits.

Hong Kong’s political party, Third Side, described the incident as “shocking” and accused the government and restaurant management of indirectly damaging “the collective memory of the people of Hong Kong”, RTHK reported.

Others saw the sinking ship as a metaphor for dark laughter for Hong Kong’s alleged fate, as the city – still largely closed to the rest of the world – clung to epidemic sanctions after years of political turmoil.

The 260-foot-long (approximately 80 m) restaurant was the main boat of the Jumbo Kingdom, a restaurant with a capacity of more than 2,000 people including a large and small sister restaurant boat, a barge for seafood tanks, a kitchen boat and eight small ferries. To transport visitors from nearby piers.

Jumbo Kingdom, once the largest floating restaurant in the world, Bruce Lee starred in many Hong Kong and international films, including “Enter the Dragon” and “James Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun”.

He also hosted visiting scholars, including Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter and Tom Cruise.

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The restaurant, which was only accessible by a small jumbo-branded ferry, was famous for its elegant royal-style facade, plenty of neon lights, a large number of specially commissioned paintings on the stairs and its colorful Chinese-style motifs – including golden thrones. Is. Dining hall.

“A restaurant on this scale on a floating structure is quite unique in the world,” said Charles Lai, an architect and founder. Hong Kong Architectural History During an interview with CNN earlier this month.

“If we look at the historical context, it was built at a time when this imperial-style Chinese aesthetic was not even promoted in China (” old things “were removed during the Cultural Revolution). So the Jumbo Kingdom reflects how There was more fervor or passion for these old Chinese traditions in Hong Kong when it was Chinese, “Lai said.

“It (also) reflects Hong Kong’s close relationship with the sea and its history.”

But as the fishing population in the island’s southern port continues to decline, the restaurant group has become less popular, and has been losing money since 2013.

The epidemic took a final hit, with jumbo owners announcing in March 2020 that they had accumulated more than $ 13 million in damages and that the restaurant would remain closed until further notice.

While several proposals were put forward to save the historic landmark, but its high maintenance costs deterred potential investors, Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam also ruled out a possible government bailout to protect the attraction.

Without the “White Knight” rescuer awaiting the city, the owner decided to move the jumbo floating restaurant, the main boat, to an unknown shipyard before the expiration of its operating license in late June.

Tai Pak, a small and old boat from 1952, as well as a recently overturned kitchen boat, docked at the port.

Maggie Huifu Wong contributed to the reporting.

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