Glimmer of Hope: Jumbo Floating Restaurant reportedly ‘still in waters’ off Paracel Islands

Fans of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant have been given a glimmer of hope that the icon of Hong Kong could still be saved after a report said the boat remained on the surface of the sea off the Paracel Islands.

The restaurant boat, which departed from Hong Kong last week for maintenance and cost-saving reasons as it waited for a new operator, capsized in the South China Sea near Paracel Islands on Sunday due to adverse weather conditions according to a statement by Jumbo’s parent company, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, released on Monday. 

The company added that it would be extremely difficult to carry out salvage works as the water depth in the area where the boat sank is over 1,000 meters.

Responding to media enquiries, a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Marine Department said late on Thursday that it had received a written report from an agent appointed by the boat’s owner saying that Jumbo and the tugboat that had towed it into the high seas “are still in the waters off” Paracel Islands.

“The ship owner will continue to follow up on the incident,” it added.

In the Chinese copy of its statement, the department said specifically that the two boats were still on the surface of the sea.

The confusion over the actual state of the boat has led to speculation by many netizens about the true intentions of Jumbo’s owners.

“[The company] was trying to test the waters when it said the boat had sunk. If there were not much reaction, it would have really caused it to sink, but now that the reaction is so big, it is saying it didn’t sink,” said one user of popular forum LIHKG.

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“Now that the reaction [to news of its sinking] is big, [the company] says it didn’t sink and can loudly proclaim how it is worthy to be preserved and find an operator,” another user said.

Some also found the whole incident suspicious, with not a single photo apparently taken of its sinking.

Another user suggested that the boat “was unwilling to die and came up to seek revenge.”

Jumbo’s owner announced a month ago that the floating restaurant would leave Hong Kong after it failed to find an operator after suffering major financial losses.

That news was followed by the sinking and toppling of the boat’s kitchen a day later.