Lamma ferry crash

Vessels must be safe at Lunar New Year fireworks, Marine officials say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 January, 2013, 3:15am

The Marine Department chief pledged to enlarge its patrols and increase safety awareness initiatives during the Lunar New Year fireworks display and the coming fog season.

"The Lamma incident was a tragedy," director of Marine Francis Liu Hon-por said of the fatal collision between the Lamma IV and Sea Smooth at a safety seminar, attended by hundreds of vessel operators yesterday.

"The Marine Department will increase inspections and safety seminars … to urge operators to comply with safety requirements, have qualified and trained crews, have emergency plans in place and to check department notices and weather reports before voyages."

Liu said that during the February 11 Lunar New Year fireworks display, the Marine Department will deploy a patrol staff of 150 people - more than were working on the night of the National Day fireworks when the collision occurred.

"Our staff will inspect vessels and if they find any problems, they will advise operators to comply with safety requirements. If operators refuse to do so, we will launch prosecutions if necessary," Liu said.

A commission of inquiry into the causes of the Lamma IV incident is currently underway.

Previous government investigations into serious or fatal marine accidents in Hong Kong have mostly attributed blame to inadequate safety preparations or contingency measures.

Calvin Wong Siu-fai, marine officer of the Marine Department's Harbour Patrol Section, said his unit would implement "improved" safety measures for the Lunar New Year fireworks.

"In the past, both eastern and western channels were opened after the fireworks displays. Our new arrangement of keeping the eastern cordon line closed will help reduce the risk of collision from vessels moving in opposite directions," he said.

A ferry company employee at the seminar said: "This has been a review of basic safety procedures that our company already has in place. We are aware of increased risk of collision during public events and will take appropriate safety precautions."