Hong Kong Boat Collision Leaves 36 Dead

Posted October 2nd, 2012 at 5:40 am (UTC-5)
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Rescuers continue searching Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor for survivors of a ferry boat collision that killed 36 people who were headed to watch a holiday fireworks show.

The ferry, belonging to the Hong Kong Electric Company, sank within minutes of colliding with another passenger boat late Monday, leaving little time for passengers to put on life jackets.

Many searched local hospitals and morgues on Tuesday for missing family members who were aboard the ferry, which was carrying around 120 of the company's staff and relatives.

The other boat, owned by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Holdings, suffered a damaged hull but made it safely to shore, with several of its crew and passengers taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

It is not clear what caused the accident, Hong Kong's worst maritime disaster in decades. Conditions were clear at the time and public transportation is generally safe in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Electric Director Yuen Sui-see says the crash was not because of overcrowded conditions or lax safety standards.

“Our ship's license was granted recently, so this is not an issue about inspection. I hope everyone understands that we were directly crashed into. This is equivalent to a car colliding straight into you and when this happens, whether or not the car has undergone inspections earlier, is a completely different issue.”

Hong Kong Electric says it will pay $25,800 to the families of each of the deceased.

By Tuesday morning, the ferry boat stood half submerged among the waves, with dive teams still searching the vessel and surrounding area for survivors. At least one person was still thought to be missing.

The accident happened near Lamma Island, south of Hong Kong Island, over a long holiday weekend to celebrate China's National Day and a mid-autumn festival.