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  • Sep 15, 2014
  • Updated: 2:08pm
NewsHong Kong

Thirty injured as Cheung Chau ferry collides with barge

New World First vessel collides with barge in foggy conditions on way to Cheung Chau

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 April, 2013, 12:21am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 April, 2013, 3:39am

More than 30 people were injured when a passenger ferry collided with a barge as it approached Cheung Chau last night.

At least three passengers on the New World First Ferry vessel sailing from Central to the island were seriously injured, the company told Cable TV. At least one of the injured was late last night being returned to the city for treatment.

It was the first major collision at sea since the deadly National Day crash off Lamma Island last year, which claimed 39 lives.

A New World First Ferry spokeswoman told TVB: "Our vessel hit a barge … Most injured passengers sustained minor injuries - only one or two have more serious injuries."

Our vessel hit a barge … Most injured passengers sustained minor injuries - only one or two have more serious injuries
New World First Ferry spokeswoman

The vessels collided in waters south of Hei Ling Chau shortly after 9.30pm, police said. The impact damaged the ferry's bow.

The First Ferry III, left Central at 9pm and headed for Cheung Chau, a New World spokeswoman said.

Cheung Chau resident Martin Williams said a friend who was on the ferry told him he "couldn't tell where the ferry was, as the fog was so thick, and wasn't even really sure which harbour they had entered".

Cheung Chau Rural Committee chairman Yung Chi-ming, who inspected the ferry when it reached Cheung Chau, said the bow of the vessel had been hit.

Passengers in the front rows were thrown from their seats and down the stairs, said Islands district councillor Lee Kwai-chun, who was on board. "Some were bleeding from injuries to their mouths and necks," Lee said.

A passenger who was speaking by phone an hour after the collision said a relative was still bleeding from his forehead. "It was a big crash," he said. " Some passengers were thrown out of their seats."

Lee said there might have been water coming into a compartment, but a watertight door had "worked". The captain had asked passengers to put on their life jackets after the collision, she said. Pictures circulating online showed passengers wearing life jackets as they sat in the ferry waiting to be rescued.



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This article is now closed to comments

man, I can’t do this.
After 10 minutes, queuing passengers had enough and just ignored the 2-3 police officers and walked through.
The police officers looked rather helpless and overwhelmed here.
Living on Cheung Chau for many years, this lack of coordination from our police station does not come to a surprise to me when reporting on going, vandalism, drug use or other unsocial behaviours.
I can only hope the Cheung Chau police management will learn from last night and have a professional contingency plan on hand, how to deal with such a disaster in the future.
As there is a high risk potential for large volume of people to deal with on short notice at a confined area such a plan must include for local volunteers able to assist the police, as we have much larger capacity ferries then the one from last night.
I’m sure most local Cheung Chau people would be volunteering for this and could be onsite within seconds.
First of all I wish all injured people a speedy and full recovery and I hope they get all the support they need.
My wife was on this ferry last night and she called me after she put on her life vest. Understandable there was panic and she confirmed what Mr. John Pole mention in his report, the ferry crew was rather disorganized.
I went immediately down to the pier and joined local people waiting anxiously for the ferry to come in.
While it was notable that the fire brigade and ambulance services been well prepared, most of the 5 uniformed police officers and 3 plain cloth police officers looked ill prepared to deal with such a situation.
It seems one of the biggest responsibility they had to do, is to take the record of the uninjured passengers leaving the ferry.
They set-up one table with 2 chairs right at the exit and 2 officers started to take ID records.
With a bit of common senses anyone would have known that 350+ people who just escaped such an accident don’t want to wait the 4-6 hours it would take to have the last passengers ID record noted down by 2 officers.
I approached the two plain cloth officers which stood by watching the struggling 3 officers and ask them if they could not help and assist their colleagues to speed up the process.
They replied that they can’t assist as they were ordered by their boss to wait for him/her.
I told them that I could assist by at least taking down the names from foreign passengers but he said because I’m not a police

I was on the ferry returning to Cheung Chau yesterday evening when it collided into a barge.
Sad to say that many people were injured from being catapulted forward, however my concern here is what could have happened when taking into account the unbelievable lack of information from the crew and the disaster that would have unfolded if we had taken to the water.
On the upper deck the first response from the staff was one of its members who looked in total panic shouting garbled instructions from the front of the cabin my companion spoke Cantonese and could not understand a word he said. There was no announcement on the public address system at that time, sometime later there was an announcement in Cantonese to put on life jackets there were no bilingual announcements, no clear information or instructions.
My conclusions are that full harnesses would have prevented all injuries that occurred as a result of being thrown forward excluding whiplash to the neck area however in the event of the vessel sinking in dense fog and total darkness it would have been from my observations and with my history of being a merchant seaman a total disaster.

Can someone do a study in finding out the relationship of number of boat collisions with the harbor reclamation timeline? Sure one must take into consideration the changes in the frequency and expansion of routes of ferries as transportation. I hope the result will prove me wrong that what I feel those bumpy rides near Lamma and within the harbor have always been. In fact, is there a way to measure the degree of bumpiness of water? Do we find more boat collisions in more bumpy waters? Would a larger ferry with lower speed be safer? Should there be better training of the crew?


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