Jetfoil passengers seek damages

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 July, 1993, 12:00am

SIX passengers injured when a Hongkong-bound jetfoil hit a partially submerged dredging pipe on Sunday night are already seeking compensation from Far East Jetfoils, but the company has yet to take responsibility.

Operations manager Edmund Cheng said last night that it was too early to say whether the jetfoil Urzela or the Chinese Government-owned tug towing the pipe for the Macau airport project were at fault.

Insurers would have to wait for internal inquiries and both Macau and Hongkong Marine Department investigations to finish, he said.

''There could even be some sort of court inquiry, so people waiting for money could be waiting a long time.'' Far East Jetfoils will today appeal for claims in a statement that says the cause of the accident is not known.

The statement says the company ''very much regrets the fact that passengers were injured in the accident''.

Fifteen passengers were admitted to hospital and dozens more hurt when the Hongkong-registered Urzela, carrying more than 200 people, hit the pipe passing through the Macau outer harbour just after 8 pm.

Last night four passengers were still in hospital in Macau, one in intensive care.

It was the second major jetfoil accident since 1991, when the Hongkong-bound jetfoil Funchal crashed into the breakwater at the Macau outer harbour, injuring three passengers and crew.

Acting Director of Marine Ian Dale said a marine surveyor might be sent to Macau to investigate after he had ordered a preliminary inquiry.

The inquiry would try to determine the cause and preventive measures, but it would be up to civil action to apportion blame, he said.

In Macau, the Deputy Harbour Master, Lieutenant-Commander Jose Manuel Sousa Henriques, said new safety guidelines were a possibility.

No decisions would be made until a report from a special committee set up to investigate the incident.