By Karina Tsui
One of Hong Kong’s most famous landmarks – a large floating restaurant known for its lavish banquet halls and neon lights – capsized in the South China Sea, its parent company said on Monday.
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant – also known as Jumbo Kingdom – was towed from the city last week after closing down during the pandemic. The vessel hit adverse weather Sunday and capsized near the Paracel Islands, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said. No crew members were hurt.
The sprawling 79m-long boat spent nearly half a century in Hong Kong’s waters, playing host to “numerous international dignitaries and celebrities,” including Queen Elizabeth II and Tom Cruise, according to the Jumbo Kingdom website.
Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises previously said it could not afford the cost of maintenance – with millions of dollars spent on inspections and repairs to meet licensing requirements. Hong Kong’s government, under chief executive Carrie Lam, rejected calls to offer temporary financial relief.
“We have clearly indicated that the government has no plans to invest money in the operation of the restaurant as we are not good at running such premises,” Lam said.
Even before the pandemic, the restaurant, which served Cantonese fare, was accumulating debt. But Hong Kong’s early move to ban tourists hit Jumbo Kingdom and other attractions hard.
Earlier this month, before it was towed, the restaurant’s 39m kitchen flotilla snapped off the back of the boat and sunk in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter.
It was unclear where Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises planned to take the restaurant before it sank. A spokesperson for the company told the South China Morning Post that the vessel was being towed somewhere in Southeast Asia.