The floating jumbo restaurant in Hong Kong is drowning in the sea

(CNN) – A popular floating restaurant in Hong Kong has sunk, just days after it was towed into the sea on its way to an unspecified destination.

The Jumbo Kingdom, a three-story ship that was once the world’s largest floating restaurant, was towed by tugs last Tuesday after nearly half a century moored in the city’s southwest waters.

Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Limited said in a statement on Monday that the restaurant’s main boat was heading to an undisclosed shipyard when it capsized on Saturday after encountering “adverse conditions” near the Paracel Islands (also known as the Xisha Islands) in the South China Sea.

The Kingdom of Jumbo in Hong Kong, pictured in 2014.

Bruce Yan/South China Morning Post/Getty Images

The statement added that the boat sank more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), which made rescue work “extremely difficult.”

She added that the Aberdeen Restaurants Corporation was “deeply saddened by this incident” and was working to gather more details. None of the crew was injured.

The news was met with panic online, with many Twitter users bemoaning the unfashionable ending of one of Hong Kong’s most famous historical icons. Some have posted art depicting the restaurant underwater, while others have shared farewell messages.

Others saw the shipwreck as a vaguely comical metaphor for Hong Kong’s alleged fortunes, as the city – still largely isolated from the rest of the world – clings to pandemic restrictions after several years of political turmoil.

The 260-foot (about 80 m) restaurant was the flagship of the Jumbo Kingdom, which included an older and smaller restaurant boat, a barge for seafood tanks, a kitchen boat, and eight small ferries to carry visitors from the nearby docks.

In its golden days, Jumbo Kingdom starred in numerous Hong Kong and international films and hosted visiting personalities such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jimmy Carter and Tom Cruise.

It is best known for its lavish imperial-style facade, abundant neon lights, huge paintings in the stairwell and its colorful Chinese-style decorations – including the golden throne in the dining hall.

But as fishing numbers dwindle in the island’s southern port, the group of restaurants is becoming less popular, and has been in deficit since 2013. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt the final blow, with the restaurant closed until further notice in 2020.

Maggie Huofu Wong contributed reporting.

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