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.
Passing ship rescued 18 from stricken ferry off Lamma, inquiry hears
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A passing ship managed to save 18 lives when it stopped at the scene of the Lamma ferry disaster, a commission of inquiry heard on Friday morning.
The timely rescue efforts were described by passengers who were on board Lamma II on the evening of October 1.
Like the stricken Lamma IV, the Lamma II was carrying Hongkong Electric employees and their families and friends to watch the National Day fireworks display.
Passenger Chui Wai-lok, 35, who was on Lamma II with seven friends, said Lamma II was following the Lamma IV at the time of the accident.
About five minutes after it set sail, Chui said he felt the Lamma II slow down, then stop.
Then he heard somebody saying: “Lamma IV is out of order again,” but he did not know who said it or why they said “again”.
He looked out and saw Lamma IV, 50 metres away. All its lights were off and it was standing still in the water. He saw another ship, which he later believed was Sea Smooth, sailing away.
Then someone shouted: “Sinking!” and he saw Lamma IV began to sink.
“In 30 seconds, the ship started to sink. There was water getting into the stern. And two minutes later, the ship was at 90 degrees to the sea surface,” he recalled.
Passengers on Lamma II threw buoy rings and life jackets into the sea, he recalled. A white yacht was nearby, helping with the rescue.
“We threw buoy rings into the sea, but some were carried away by the current. Many people in the sea could not reach them,” he said.
Chui helped pull two people from the water and into Lamma II. After about 15 to 20 minutes, firemen and marine police arrived and began the rescue operation, he said.
The Lamma II rescued 18 injured people, he said. They were treated and rushed to hospital when the ship arrived at Ap Lei Chau.
Lamma II was originally bound for Ap Lei Chau and the Lamma IV was heading for Central.