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.
Detached seats on Lamma ferry blocked escape
The inquiry into the Lamma ferry disaster will investigate – among other issues – why deck seats on the stricken Lamma IV broke away from their floor screws, hampering passengers’ escape, the commission heard in its first session on Wednesday.
In his opening remarks, counsel for commission Paul Shieh Wing-tai SC noted that a number of seats on the ship broke free in the collision and “flew off”, when the ship collided with the ferry Sea Smooth.
“Some passengers are expected to describe this, and explain what difficulties this caused to them when they were trying to escape from the Lamma IV,” he said.
The October 1 accident – the city’s worst sea disaster in 40 years – killed 39 people.
Photos exhibited on a screen in the hearing room showed screw holes on the floor of the upper deck of Lamma IV, where the seats were originally attached. Some loose screws could be seen on a seat that was not completely detached.
Yim Kit-ming, a Marine Department engineer, explained to the commission the movements of the two vessels before and after the collision, with the aid of radar diagrams.
The commission is due to report within six months on the cause of the disaster, and to recommend improvements to maritime safety in Hong Kong.
About 37 witnesses are expected to give evidence.