The South China Morning Post reports that at least 37 people were declared dead after the Hong Kong ferry collision which took place on Monday evening. The two passenger boats crashed because the water traffic near Lamma’s coast was even busier than usual.
Hong Kong has some of the busiest waters in the world as the region is frequently transited by giant commercial freighters, ocean liners, passenger ferries and private boats. On Monday evening, the narrow sea lanes between Hong Kong and the Lamma Island were even more crowded than usual as inhabitants were celebrating China’s National Day. Given the lack of space and visibility two passenger boats collided around 8:20 p.m. throwing more than 100 people into the water.
After the impact one of the damaged boats headed towards the pier, whereas the other vessel was already sinking. The Hong Kong Fire Service Department sent several teams on the coast to rescue people from the water. According to their declarations, authorities arrived at 8:41 p.m. and managed to pull 123 people out of the water. Some of them were declared dead on the scene, whereas others deceased on their way to the hospital. 37 people lost their lives so far, but their number could increase in the future considering that some survivors are recovering in hospital with severe injuries.
One of the vessels belonged to the Hong Kong Electric Company and was carrying company employees and their families to watch the fireworks show which was programmed to take place around midnight. After 10 minutes out the vessel was struck by a passenger ferry coming from the side at a very high speed. A survivor told the press that the rear of the ferry started to sink and after several minutes he found himself under the sea. The man, who was now trying to find his two children, managed to save himself by swimming hard and grabbing a life buoy.
Authorities will continue to investigate the scene to determine who is responsible for the incident. The Hong Kong Fire Service Department will continue to search for victims as they believe some of the missing people could still be trapped inside the vessel.