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Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant sinks in South China Sea

Hong Kong's Jumbo Floating Restaurant sinks in South China Sea
Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant capsized and sank in the South China Sea as it was being towed to an undisclosed location. Photo courtesy of jumbo.com.hk.

June 21 (UPI) -- Jumbo Floating Restaurant, the world's largest buoyant dining destination, capsized in the South China Sea days after it was towed from the Hong Kong harbor where it sat for nearly half a century.

The 260-foot long, three-story high floating restaurant, which looked like a Chinese imperial palace, was moored in Hong Kong's Aberdeen harbor for 46 years before it was towed away last week.

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The owners, who closed the restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 after accumulated losses of more than $13 million, said they are "very saddened by this accident."

The parent company of Jumbo King said the boat capsized Saturday after meeting "adverse conditions" near the Parcel Islands, also known as the Xisha Islands, and sank more than 3,000 feet.

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"The water depth at the scene is over 1,000 meters, making it extremely difficult to carry out salvage works," a statement from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises said. No crew members were injured.

Jumbo Floating Restaurant opened in 1976 and was well-known for its traditional Chinese decor and signature seafood dishes drawing tourists from around the world. It was featured in a number of movies including Jackie Chan's 1985 film, The Protector, and James Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun.

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The restaurant, which was only accessible by small ferries, also hosted Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter and Tom Cruise.

After the restaurant closed in 2020, a number of investors passed on saving the iconic structure because of its high maintenance costs.

"A restaurant on this scale on a floating structure is quite unique in the world," said architect Charles Lai during an interview with CNN earlier this month.

"If we look at the historical context, it was built at a time when this imperial-style Chinese aesthetic wasn't even encouraged in China. So, Jumbo Kingdom reflected how Chinese in Hong Kong then had a greater yearning or passion for these old Chinese traditions," Lai said.

"It also reflects the close relation and history Hong Kong has with the sea."

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