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Lamma ferry crash

Why National Day fireworks weren't cancelled sparks debate

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 4:27am

The decision to go ahead with the National Day fireworks display 30 minutes after the ferry collision has caused much debate online.

Some argued the government was trying not to spoil the happy mood of the holiday, while others thought the administration was trying to cover up the accident.

Some said the display had to take place because more than 300,000 people had gathered around the harbour, waiting for the show, and cancelling it could have created a problem.

The Marine Department said there were 150 vessels in the harbour waiting for the fireworks.

The debate also extended to whether the city should stage fireworks displays at future National Days, which they said should become a day to mourn the victims of the tragedy.

Other online forum commentators asked why the nightly Symphony of Lights show was not cancelled immediately and why a day of mourning was not called immediately after the collision.

A spokesman for the Home Affairs Bureau, which co-ordinates the fireworks display, defended the decision to go ahead. He said the crash happened less than an hour before the fireworks show started at 9pm. It took time to receive details about the crash.

He said that if the show was to have been cancelled, the department would have needed to make an announcement to the city, especially with hundreds of thousands of people gathering on the harbour. A cancellation might have made it difficult to disperse the crowds safely.

Faced with the question on Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said it should be referred to the "show's organiser".

The fireworks sponsor was the Association of the Hong Kong Members of Guangdong's Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Committees.