Lamma ferry disaster
A boat owned by Hongkong Electric carrying more than 100 staff workers and their family members collided with a ferry in waters off Lamma Island at about 8.20pm on October 1, 2012. More than 100 passengers on the boat fell into the water. Thirty-nine people were confirmed dead after the accident. This is the deadliest boat accident in Hong Kong in 40 years.
Lawmaker acts as spokesman for families of ferry victims
Survivors and families of the Lamma ferry disaster found a spokesman in lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing, who met senior managers of Hongkong Electric on their behalf on Tuesday morning.
The death toll rose to 36 early on Tuesday. The victims are all employees of the power firm and their relatives, whose chartered ferry, the Lamma IV, sank off Lamma Island on Monday night.
When he heard of the disaster, Wong rushed to Queen Mary Hospital to help the survivors, he said on a radio programme on Tuesday morning.
He was called by worried members of 13 families, who asked him to find out what had happened to their 24 relatives on board the Lamma IV. Wong learned that 10 of the 24 missing people had survived and four had died, but he could not find the other 10, he said.
He criticised Hongkong Electric for not disclosing the names of employees and their family members who were on board, and urged the company to pay employees’ medical and burial expenses.
But company spokesman Yuen Shui-see told the media that the company could not disclose the names without getting the consent of the staff members involved.
The company has set up a committee to co-ordinate the assistance being offered to survivors and victims’ families, and it would pursue the question of who was liable for the disaster, Yuen said.
“We would do our best to assist, in terms of both manpower and money. We are now doing whatever we can think of. We feel so sorry and shocked,” he said.
The company’s chartered vessel was on a National Day jaunt to see a fireworks display when it collided shortly after 8.20pm with a public ferry carrying passengers from Central to Lamma Island.
In face of criticism that the public ferry, operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, left the scene after the accident, one passenger on the ferry said the captain pulled away at the request of frightened passengers.
“The passengers were in a panic after the crash and some were injured,” he said. “They asked the captain to take them to the pier.” The ferry had taken on a lot of water by the time it moored at the pier, he said.
Yuen said the company chairman and deputy chairman, Li Ka-shing and his son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, had expressed their sympathy for the survivors and next of kin.
Victor Li visited some employees in hospital to offer assistance, and the flag was lowered at the company’s headquarters, Cheung Kong Center in Central, Yuen said.