At least 36 killed in Hong Kong ferry collision

 

A boat packed with revellers on a long holiday weekend collided with a ferry and sank off Hong Kong, killing at least 36 people and injuring dozens in the deadliest accident to strike the Chinese territory in years.

The boat was carrying utility company workers and their families to famed Victoria Harbour to watch a fireworks display in celebration of China's National Day and mid-autumn festival. The two vessels collided last night near Lamma Island off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island. 

The government said 36 bodies had been recovered as of this morning and the search was made difficult by low visibility and obstacles on the boat. Details about the victims were not given, though local outlet RTHK reported some of the dead were children. 

More than 100 people were rescued and sent to hospitals, and nine had serious or critical injuries, the government's statement said. At least one person appeared to be missing, according to government figures. 

Such large-scale accidents are rare for Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous enclave off mainland China that has one of Asia's most advanced infrastructures and economies with first-rate public services. 

The tragedy is also the latest test for the new administration of Hong Kong's Beijing-installed chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who rushed to the pier where rescue work was taking place. 

Leung's July inauguration was greeted by protests, and opposition by students and their parents against the proposed teaching of China-influenced patriotic history forced his government to back off the plan last month. 

"All of Hong Kong's emergency forces are focused here," Leung said earlier. "Wide-ranging rescue work is being carried out on in the sea, land and in the air." Leung said he didn't know what caused the collision but promised a thorough investigation. 

After daybreak, the boat was half submerged with its bow pointing almost straight up. A barge was tied alongside it, apparently to stabilise the sunken boat and keep it from tipping further. 

Hong Kong fire services had deployed seven boats, including one to support diving operations, and more than 200 rescue personnel, the government said. Four rescue boats and a team of divers also were dispatched from the mainland Chinese province of Guangdong just across the border, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. 

"There was a boat that came in close and crashed," said Yuen Sui-see, director of operations at Power Assets Holdings Ltd., which was using the vessel to take staff on the outing. "After the crash, the other boat continued away, it didn't stop." He denied the vessel was overloaded, saying it was carrying 121 passengers and three crew but had capacity for more than 200 passengers. 

Local news reports said the boat was hit by a ferry operated by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry company on a regularly scheduled service. RTHK said the ferry captain was afraid to stop in case it sank, too, and returned to port safely. Local TV later showed images of the ferry, with its bow chewed up and chunks missing. 

Survivors said the boat started sinking rapidly after the collision. One woman told local television that she swallowed a lot of water as she swam back to shore. Another man said he didn't know where his children were. Neither gave their names. 

Lamma is the third-biggest island in Hong Kong and near one of the coastal Chinese city's busiest shipping lanes. The island is home to about 6,000 people, including many of the former British colony's expatriate workers.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments