Hong Kong ferry collision toll rises
02 October 2012, 09:18
Hong Kong - A pleasure boat on a trip to watch
National Day fireworks collided with a ferry and sank off Hong Kong,
leaving 36 people dead and sparking a frantic overnight rescue effort,
officials said on Tuesday.
More than 120 passengers and crew were
on the Hong Kong Electric company's vessel to watch the huge fireworks
display in Victoria harbour on Monday evening when the collision
occurred near Lamma Island.
Scores of people were thrown into the
choppy water and the company vessel sank within minutes, leaving only
its bow protruding from the waves.
"Twenty eight were certified
dead at the scene while eight others were certified dead upon arrival
[at] hospitals," the government said in a statement.
people were sent to five hospitals during the incident, nine of them
have sustained serious injuries or are in critical condition.
action will continue as Fire Service Department [FSD] cannot rule out
that there are still people inside the vessel or missing."Low visibility
of the dead and most of the injured are believed to have been
passengers or crew of the Hong Kong Electric vessel, which was
reportedly packed with staff and their families hoping to enjoy the
spectacular fireworks display.
Rescue teams in boats and
helicopters spent the night scouring the sea around the site of the
accident for signs of survivors, while dive teams entered the sunken
"The low visibility and many obstacles on board... made it difficult for rescue," the FSD said.
Survivors were taken by boat to Hong Kong island, around 3km to the east, where a fleet of ambulances whisked them to hospital.
Local television station RTHK reported on its website that children were among the dead.
10 minutes out a boat crashed into ours from the side at very high
speed. The rear... started to sink," a survivor told the South China Morning Post after he was brought to shore.All resources mobilised
"I suddenly found myself deep under the sea. I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy. I don't know where my two kids are."
survivor, a woman, said: "I swam for a long time to reach the surface
and swallowed a lot of water. Then I found a rescue boat."
Hong Kong chief Leung Chun-ying said the government had mobilised all its resources to respond to the accident.
our emergency rescue teams are concentrated there... We can see that
bit by bit, the people in the water are being rescued," he told
reporters at a pier as the injured were being put into ambulances.
after visiting a hospital where a number of those hurt had been taken,
he said: "Government divers have entered the submerged portion of the
boat to rescue survivors, passengers or crew members.
"We will investigate this incident, we must understand the reason for this incident."Driver blamed
told how the water level inside the boat being used by HK Electric rose
quickly before the vessel sank, RTHK news website reported.
Hong Kong Electric's director of operations SS Yuen confirmed the passengers were on their way to the fireworks display.
"This is a very happy holiday and it turned out to be such a tragic incident," he said.
He was quoted in the Post as blaming the driver of the regular ferry for the collision.
"The ferry rammed the side of our boat. They didn't bother and just left," he said.
Police said the cause of the accident was not yet known.
"The case is still under investigation so we don't have any information on the cause," a police spokesperson said.
The FSD said 28 boats, two helicopters and 20 ambulances were involved in the rescue operation.
Island is the third largest island in Hong Kong, with a population of
around 5 000 people. It is popular with expats, who enjoy its car-less
narrow streets and laid-back lifestyle.