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.