Three British tourists have been found dead at a popular waterfalls site in central Vietnam, Datanla waterfalls, in the Lam Dong province. The team of Lam Dong officials who found the British tourists dead discovered the bodies of one man and two women, aged between 19 and 25 years old, early this morning. The man has been formally identified as Christian Sloan of Kent, and while authorities await formal identification of the young women, they are believed by local police to be Isobel Squire, 19, and Beth Anderson, 25.
BBC reports that police had to climb down a steep drop to recover the bodies of the young British tourists. The three bodies were found near the foot of a 20-meter drop within the Datanla waterfalls park, a tourist attraction popular for its various activities for exploring the sprawling streams, pools, and tiered falls such as canyoning, white water rafting, climbing, zip-lining, and lugeing.
The exact cause of death is unknown, but preliminary investigations suggest that the three tourists were traversing the course together when one slipped, accidentally taking the other two down with them and killing them either upon impact or by drowning.
Deputy chairman of Lam Dong province Nguyen Van Yen was in charge of the recovery operation for the dead bodies of the young British tourists.
“When we found the bodies, we found their helmets and safety jackets but no ropes,” he told the BBC. “According to our initial investigation, after visiting the Datanla waterfalls, they went to the forest to another area for canyoning. On their way, they passed through a stream which flowed into a waterfall. Unfortunately a person slipped, taking the other two with them.”
With three British tourists dead within an area which is regulated by central Vietnam authorities, the safety practices of guided Datanla adventure tours have been thrown into question. Sky News reports that one man has been questioned, but not arrested, under suspicion of taking the three British tourists on an unauthorized tour of the waterfalls after locals informed them that the group had not paid entry. Furthermore, deputy director of the Lam Dong joint stock tourist company, which manages the Datanla falls, said they did not use the company’s safety gear.
BBC‘s Southeast Asia correspondent said that a sharp increase in tourists in Vietnam and weak law enforcement means that accident prevention is an “almost non-existent” culture, raising concerns over safety in the burgeoning tourist destination and the distressing possibility of more youth turning up dead while traveling.
British half-sisters from Sheffield, Beth Gisele Anderson, 25, and Isobel Mackenzie Squire, 19, had been travelling together in Vietnam since the beginning of the month before they were found dead yesterday by police.
Nearby was Christian Thomas Sloan, 24, a former Royal Navy sailor, who had left his job in Dover Harbour at the beginning of the year to travel with his best friend, James McGlashan.
After Sloan was found dead, votes of sympathy flowed from around the world for the loss of a “popular” man who “lived for life.” James was able only to respond briefly via Facebook in grief and shock at the deaths of the British tourists.
McGlashan’s parents told Telegraph that he had mentioned a “harness failure” during the tour, but no further detail had been given about the deaths in Vietnam.
With three young British tourists dead at the Vietnam waterfalls, most likely victims of unsafe tourism practices by local authorities, British nationals remember others who have died or gone missing before them in Southeast Asia. British tourist Hannah Witheridge, 23, was found dead on Koh Tao in 2014 — with her family reporting a “bungled” investigation and suspected police corruption therein — and British scientist Jamie Taggert went missing in Vietnam in 2013 after local police search efforts failed to find him.
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