Manila Bay cruise widower sues over double tragedy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 December, 1998, 12:00am

A grieving father whose wife and four-year-old son drowned when a sunset cruise in the Philippines ended in tragedy has launched a damages action against a travel agency and its tour guide.

Ho Yan, 36, suffered fear and psychological distress when the pleasure boat his family was on capsized, resulting in the death of seven Hong Kong tourists, a High Court writ says.

He lists a catalogue of problems which he says contributed to the accident and the deaths of his bank manager wife, Chan Nga-moon, 33, and son Vernan Ho Yuk-lun.

There were about 46 people on the vessel, the King Roger, when it set sail from Manila Bay on August 15 last year. But it was only authorised to carry up to 17, including crew, the writ says.

The wind was rough and the sea choppy but there were insufficient life jackets available, it says.

'The King Roger was unsuitable and unsafe for the purpose for which she was chartered or employed,' Mr Ho argues.

He says Central-based Citizens Travel Agency Ltd breached its contract with his family over the five-day holiday, which cost $7,430.

The company failed to take sufficient steps to ensure that a safe vessel would be provided for the sunset cruise which was part of the programme it had arranged, the writ claims.

Mr Ho alleges the company was also guilty of negligence by failing to warn the tour group of the condition of the boat, the weather, and 'the dangerous circumstances' of the cruise.

Tour guide Ching Long-sing, employed by the company, was responsible for similar negligence, it is alleged.

Mr Ho needed to take six weeks off work afterwards and lost $315,000 in salary.

He names himself, his wife and his son as plaintiffs in the court action, and is seeking unspecified damages, interest and costs.