One of Hong Kong’s most distinctive restaurants – the Jumbo Floating Restaurant – has capsized in the South China Sea, days after it was towed away from its home for 46 years in the territory’s Aberdeen harbour.
Its owners said in a statement on Monday that the restaurant had encountered adverse weather conditions when passing the Paracel Islands – also known as the Xisha Islands – on its way to an undisclosed location.
“The water depth at the scene is over 1,000 meters, making it extremely difficult to carry out salvage works,” the statement from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said, adding that no crew member was injured and that it was seeking more information from the towing agency. It said it was “very saddened by this accident”.
Opened in 1976 by the late Stanley Ho Hung-sun, a casino magnate in Macau, Jumbo restaurant has become a popular tourist attraction in the former British colony over the last four decades.
Known for its elegant traditional Chinese decorations and signature seafood dishes, the eatery of almost 80 meters in length has been repeatedly featured in films over the years, such as Jackie Chan’s 1985 film, The Protector, and the widely acclaimed Infernal Affairs II in 2003. Its high profile guests also included Queen Elizabeth II and Hollywood actor Tom Cruise.
The coronavirus pandemic dealt the restaurant a huge financial blow. It closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and laid off all its staff. Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said the restaurant had become a financial burden to its shareholders, with millions of Hong Kong dollars spent on its inspection and maintenance even though it was not in operation.
It said since the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Jumbo had a net loss of HK$100m (£10m). A lack of maintenance has also caused a 30-metre kitchen barge connected to the restaurant to sink earlier this month.
The restaurant was towed away last Tuesday to an undisclosed location. Before the vessel’s departure, the company said it had been inspected by marine engineers and hoardings had been installed, and all relevant approvals had been obtained.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press