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Hong Kong’s Jumbo floating restaurant sinks at sea

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Hong Kong’s Jumbo floating restaurant sinks at sea, just days after being towed out to sea on its way to an unknown destination.
The three-story Jumbo Kingdom, once the world’s largest floating restaurant, was towed away by tugboats last Tuesday after nearly 50 years moored in the city’s southwest waters.

Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited said in a statement Monday that the restaurant’s main boat capsized on Saturday after encountering “adverse conditions” near the Paracel Islands (also known as the Xisha Islands) in the South China Sea.

According to the statement, the boat sank more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), making salvage work “extremely difficult.”
Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises was “very saddened by this accident,” it added, and was working to gather more information. There were no injuries among the crew members.

The news was met with outrage online, with many Twitter users lamenting the untimely demise of one of Hong Kong’s most recognizable historic icons. Others shared farewell messages, while some posted artwork depicting the restaurant underwater.

Others saw the sinking ship as a darkly comic metaphor for Hong Kong’s alleged fortunes, as the city clings to pandemic restrictions after several years of political turmoil.

The main boat of Jumbo Kingdom was 260 feet (about 80 meters) long, with an older and smaller sister restaurant boat, a barge for seafood tanks, a kitchen boat, and eight small ferries to transport visitors from nearby piers.

During its heyday, Jumbo Kingdom appeared in numerous Hong Kong and international films and hosted visiting luminaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter, and Tom Cruise.

It was famous for its opulent Imperial-style façade, abundant neon lights, massive commissioned paintings in the stairwell, and colorful Chinese-style motifs, including a golden throne in the dining hall.

However, as the fishing population in the island’s southern harbor declined, so did the restaurant group, which had been operating at a loss since 2013. The restaurant was closed until further notice in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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