Lamma ferry crash

Lamma ferry disaster survivor 'a changed person'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 December, 2012, 3:40am

It was supposed to be an enjoyable day out at sea for the couple who were planning to get married next year when they set off from Lamma Island on October 1 to catch the National Day fireworks display. Now only one of them is around to see the wedding photos they had taken.

A woman who attended yesterday's inquest into October's deadly ferry crash off Lamma Island which claimed 39 lives, revealed how her son, identified as Mr Tang, formerly a computer engineer with Hongkong Electric, survived the collision but failed to save his fiancée, surnamed Cheung.

"He became very ill-tempered after the incident, as if he had become a totally different person. He would get furious if anyone touched his fiancée's belongings," said the woman, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Tang, during a break in the inquest.

Tang said her son, who is in his 30s, had planned to marry his fiancée next June. The couple had done their wedding photo shoot earlier and the pictures would be ready for collection this month.

"I may just put the photos away so that my son will not see them," said Tang, adding that her family would also cancel the booking of the wedding banquet.

Tang said her son recalled two or three impacts after the initial crash had occurred.

She said that Cheung lost a tooth after the vessel lurched violently a second time. Her son fetched a lifebuoy for his fiancée, but as Cheung was putting it on, the vessel lurched again and the couple were separated.

Tang said her son hammered against the window of the ferry with his hands and his head in a bid to escape the sinking Lamma IV but to no avail. He waited for rescuers but eventually decided he needed to get out. Tang, who cannot swim, dived into the water and found a hole at the bottom of the vessel which he managed to escaped out of. His fiancée was later found dead, she said.

Tang blamed the large number of casualties in the accident on the slow pace of rescue work. She claimed that only one fireman had attended the incident.

She said her son suffered limb and back injuries, among others, from the collision. He was also still seeing a psychiatrist.

Tang said her son had recounted his horrific on the Lamma IV to her only once and refused to do so again, even at the inquest.