Coroner pleads for better jetfoil safety

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 March, 1999, 12:00am

A coroner called for improved safety measures on jetfoils after recording a verdict of accidental death in the case of a 77-year-old passenger who was killed in a collision which also left 120 injured.

Wan Yuen-lan was airlifted from the vessel but died in hospital two days later.

Coroner Paul Kelly urged jetfoil operators to learn from airlines how to encourage passengers to keep seat belts fastened at all times.

They should also seek advice from airlines regarding 'crowd control management and calming and assuring passengers'.

Macau-bound jetfoil Flores crashed into an old shipwreck undetected by radar while travelling at 40 knots on May 2 last year.

Survivor Dr David Anderson said out of court the tragedy had been an accident waiting to happen.

'The captain had not used the route in three years, the old wreckage had changed and had not been reported,' he said.

During the inquest it was disclosed that the wreckage was about 370 metres from the point indicated in sea charts.

Charts had not been updated because the wreckage, which lies in mainland waters, had not been reported to the Marine Department.

The stern of the Flores clipped the wreckage, causing the Far East Jetfoils vessel to hit the water forcefully.

The passengers, most of whom were not wearing seat belts, were thrown towards the ceiling, against seats in front or against cabin walls.

'The death of Ms Wan was a tragedy, but [the accident] had the potential to be a disaster,' Mr Kelly said.

The Coroner also urged operators to conduct regular simulated exercises to sharpen the skills of crews in dealing with emergencies.