Too little care blamed as boat accidents rise

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 January, 1999, 12:00am

Boat masters must be more careful, the Marine Department chief said yesterday after revealing that accidents increased by four per cent last year.

Marine Director Tsui Shung-yiu said carelessness was behind the majority of accidents, which rose to 364 from 349 in 1997.

Mr Tsui said 20 of the incidents were major and investigations showed they were mainly caused by lax navigational safety standards.

They led to nine deaths and 50 injuries while one person remains missing.

'The causes of the accidents concentrated on two areas: a lack of proper lookout by vessel masters, and a lack of maintaining safe operational speeds,' he said.

'Although we have stepped up harbour control and taken other steps, we still need the co-operation of masters so that they pay special attention when operating a vessel.' Mr Tsui's appeal came after four men died and six were injured last Sunday in a pre-dawn collision off Tsing Yi Island. They were leaving for a day's fishing when their speedboat and a larger launch collided.

Speaking at the department's year-end review, Mr Tsui said investigations so far showed speeding was responsible for at least 30 incidents last year.

He said the department was reviewing speed limits and expected to present proposals for tighter controls and tougher penalties to Legco in March.

Three marine inquiries were held into incidents last year, including the loss of containers when a barge and a cargo vessel capsized in Western and Mirs Bay respectively.

A collision occurred between a mainland fishing vessel and a Panamanian tanker off Po Toi.

A preliminary inquiry was also held into a collision involving a jetfoil off Tai O. One person died in the incident.

An inquiry into the fitness and conduct of the jetfoil master and chief officer has been ordered and is scheduled for February 1 in Eastern Court.