What is the price of safety? It’s hard to say. Unfortunately sometimes we get horrible and saddening examples in our amusement park industry by bad operators and lacking regulations.
Thanh Ha water park – the largest water park in southern Hanoi, Vietnam, has been quoted to be built to “European Standards” and had over 9 slides/attractions on 3 hectares. This made it Vietnam’s capital city’s Largest Water Park with an estimated investment of 8,000,000+ USD. Construction started in November 2018 with investment from Muong Thanh Group and a company stating: “The design, supply and installation of this project has confirmed the leading capacity of HVC Group in the water park field”.
The park opened on 10 June 2019 with a lot of fanfare and “Thousands of visitors”.
Even during the opening day video it’s clear that no safety standards are being enforced with multiple industry standard safety violations visible on the promotion video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r79LK8ULPMU
- No Lifeguards
- Chains forming in the slides
- Slide Splash out pools being used for swimming
- Loose items on slides
- No dispatching of guest. Tubes hitting guests at the bottom of the slides
- Discolored water
- Family Raft slide tubes in the river
First problems and first drowning
On the opening day of the park (the 10th) the local government came to inspect Thanh Ha water park and found that despite having a business license, other licenses were missing.
On the morning of the 12th of June (2 days after opening) the local government has decided to suspend the operations of the park due to missing licenses. However, in the afternoon the first drowning of a 4 year old boy occurred inside the lazy river. The boy was walking with a guardian next to the river and fell in and drowned. The boy passed away the next day in the hospital on 13 June 2019
The park was fined 860USD (20 million VND) by the government for not having proper Lifeguard licenses and training. The park was issued licenses after 20 days.
Second drowning and other issues
The second drowning was 6 year old boy and happened on 22 September 2019. At this point many articles surfaced stating that not enough lifejackets and tubes were available, not enough lifeguards were available to monitor swimmers, staff was hiding inside “huts” and dirty water with people complaining about itchy skin hours after visiting the park.
Closure and responsibility
The park was closed by the authorities on the 23 of September 2019. The authorities stated that only swimming pools (2 only) are under responsibilities of the government and that slides and swimming/play area’s like the lazy river are not their responsibility to certify.
Demolishing of the park
The company owning the waterpark was requested to demolish the park, but didn’t do this within the required time frame. On 15 and 16 January the local government send over a 100 officials, 5 excavators and countless cranes came on site to flatten and demolish the entire park in 2 days.
2 fatal drownings over the course of 4 months caused Hanoi’s largest 8 million USD water park to operate for less than 6 months, before being demolished with countless of jobs, revenue and two children’s lives lost.
Hopefully this extremely sad loss of life will lead to improvements in the Asian waterpark industry like: Certified lifeguards by an independent organization, a independent auditing program, government regulations for construction and operational safety in water and amusement parks and awareness from operators to follow the highest possible standards.