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Dozens killed in ferry disaster

Seven crew from two boats that collided in Hong Kong waters killing 38 people have been arrested, but the cause of the accident still remains unclear.

The crash was Hong Kong's deadliest accident in more than 15 years, and its worst maritime accident in more than 40.

Police Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung said six people were detained on suspicion of endangering passengers by operating their craft in an unsafe way. Police later announced a seventh arrest.

Mr Tsang said both crews are suspected of having not "exercised the care required of them by law," but he did not elaborate.

The accident happened off Hong Kong island's south-west coast when a ferry collided with the Lamma IV, which is owned by the Hong Kong Electric Co. and was taking more than 100 employees and their families to famed Victoria Harbor to watch a fireworks display in celebration of China's National Day and mid-autumn festival.

The government said 101 people were sent to hospital, 66 were discharged, and four had serious injuries or were in critical condition.

The Lamma IV sank and the ferry, the Sea Smooth, was damaged but completed its journey, and some of its passengers were treated for injuries. Local TV later showed its bow chewed up and chunks missing.

The government said 28 bodies were recovered overnight, and eight more people were declared dead at hospital. Two bodies found aboard the vessel later raised the death toll to 38. At least four of those killed were children.

Although there was no immediate word about how the collision occurred on Hong Kong's tightly regulated waterways, it appeared human error was involved. Both vessels should have been illuminated by running lights when they crashed near Lamma island.

Such large-scale accidents are rare for Hong Kong which has one of Asia's most advanced infrastructures and economies with first-rate public services. The accident is the deadliest to strike the territory since a 1996 high-rise fire that killed 41, and the deadliest ferry accident since 88 people died during a typhoon in 1971.


From Belfast Telegraph