Hong Kong Ferry Disaster: Police Arrest Seven Crew Members

Hong Kong police have arrested seven crew members from the two boats that collided on Monday night and resulted in the death of 38 passengers (including five children) and injured about 100 others.

In the deadly accident, a high-speed ferry collided with a pleasure boat carrying about 120 passengers who were headed to a holiday fireworks display off Hong Kong’s Lamma Island. This was the worst maritime accident in 40 years in Hong Kong.

Police Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung said the seven individuals “were detained on suspicion of endangering passengers by operating their craft in an unsafe way,” AP reports. Without elaborating, the commissioner added that they were suspected of not exercising “the care required of them by law.”

Hong Kong is observing three days of mourning for the victims, and world leaders have sent messages of condolences.

According to the BBC, “While the pleasure boat sank within minutes of impact, the other boat – operated by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry (HKKF) company – was able to reach Lamma and let passengers off.”

Hong Kong officials are examining the wreckage of the pleasure craft, the Lamma IV, and that “authorities have said that in a six-month probe, investigators will try to determine why it sank so quickly, whether there was adequate safety equipment on board and if the captains of the vessels followed the rules of the sea,” according to the Independent Online.

The Independent explains what happened when the two boats smashed into each other:

“The Lamma IV’s left rear was torn open in the impact, throwing scores of passengers into the sea. The vessel’s stern was flooded within minutes, trapping passengers in the submerged cabin.”

The Lamma IV was carrying employees of Hong Kong Electric and their families who were en route to the fireworks show. Hong Kong Electric’s parent company said it will provide emergency payments of $25,8000 to the family of each person who died in the collision.

[Image credit: Robert Jonathan]