The exercise operated under the pretense that a vessel carrying 40 passengers had its engines explode at 4:30 pm, only three minutes after leaving the southern city for Vung Tau.
While panicked passengers shouted for help, the ship collided with another nearby passenger line hosting 78 passengers. The second ship started sinking after the collision left it with a hole in its bow. Ten passengers “fell” into the river.
Crewmembers aboard both ships were quick to throw life belts to the passengers and asked those remaining aboard to keep calm while the captains called for help from the municipal fire department’s emergency response team.
Five minutes after receiving the SOS call, Nguyen Thanh Huong, deputy director of the fire dept, led a team of 400 to the scene to begin rescue efforts.
The vessel ST-115, Vietnam’s most advanced firefighting ship, was also deployed for the drill.
The local border guard unit and sea transportation authority was also present to rescue any passengers thrown overboard.
Ten minutes after arriving at the scene, ship ST-115 was able to approach the passenger line and extinguish the flames.
Medical responders were on hand to provide first aid to the victims and rush those with severe injuries to the hospital.
The rescue and firefighting efforts were completed in 20 minutes.
By5:20 pm, the fire department announced that the situation has been completely resolved.