• Wed
  • Aug 20, 2014
  • Updated: 3:51pm
NewsHong Kong

Macau jetfoil passengers tell of 'crash like thunder' that left 87 injured

Passengers describe how they were thrown out of their seats on Macau-bound ferry in accident blamed on floating debris that left 87 injured

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 3:38am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 November, 2013, 11:38am


  • Yes: 68%
  • No: 32%
29 Nov 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 365

Bruised and bloodied passengers recalled their terror yesterday after a mystery accident involving a Macau-bound jetfoil that left 87 injured.

They told of a huge noise "like thunder" as they were thrown out of their seats, with one commenting: "It was like a racing car suddenly hitting a wall."

It was initially thought the vessel, Madeira, may have hit an unknown object in the water. But a spokesman for operator TurboJet said there was no immediately apparent damage to the hull.

A government source later said that as one of the two engines had broken down, it was possible that semi-submerged refuse had been sucked into the engine and jammed it.

Video: Dozens injured in Hong Kong high-speed ferry accident

The accident happened about 15 minutes after the 27-metre jetfoil carrying 105 passengers and 10 crew left the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan at 1am yesterday.

"It was like it suddenly got stuck, sank, bounced up and dropped down," injured mainland tourist Wang Rong said of the accident off Hei Ling Chau.

Wang was wearing a seatbelt but her nose slammed into the seat in front so hard that it bled "like water gushing out from a tap". She needed five stitches.

"I heard huge sounds, like thunder cracking three times. It was so loud my ears almost got hurt. Now I feel like the sounds are still roaring," she said.

Wang's friend Gong Wenzhong said the incident was like "a racing car hitting a wall". He had not fastened his seat belt and was thrown into the air.

"Many people in the boat flew up," he said. "When they fell, they crashed into many seats."

He was hurt slightly around his waist, but his wife, who had fastened her seat belt, lost a front tooth when her head hit the seat in front.

Their group of six, including one Hong Kong resident, had flown from Bangkok on Wednesday and planned to visit Macau for the day before heading back to the mainland. They were treated at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan. But when one of them required further observation, the hospital refused to admit her unless the group signed an agreement to pay the HK$47,000 non-resident's deposit.

The woman, who has kidney disease, was found with blood in her urine. But doctors said it was not clear if this was due to the accident. The dispute was solved when Turbojet agreed to cover the costs of their medical treatment and their stay in the city.

"I thought such things could only happen on the mainland," the Hong Kong member of the group, Ng Kam-chiu, said.

"Now I feel Hong Kong is becoming more like the mainland. This is too inhumane."

The vessel was towed back to the terminal, where the injured were picked up by 36 ambulances. The 54 men and 33 women, including nine crew, were treated at six public hospitals.

Two men aged 41 and 55 were in serious condition, 27 were stable and the rest were discharged.

TurboJet said the ferry's speed was normal at 38 to 40 knots.

A police officer said an air and sea search failed to find any object the jetfoil could have hit.

Captain Tony Yeung Pui-keung, manager of the Vocational Training Council's Maritime Services Training Institute, said it was difficult for skippers to spot floating objects at night.

The vessel was towed to a shipyard for further investigation by the Marine Department.

TurboJet said the vessel had had its annual check-up and maintenance last month. The skipper had 31 years of sailing experience and had been in his current position for five years with a good performance record.


More on this story

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Since the jetfoil a single large scoop, if debris is in the way, there is no way both engines would not shut down. Each jet pumps 130tons of water per minute, so when it goes from that amount to near zero, the jet foil loses lift and plunges around 6 ft into the sea. Obviously the debris field would have been quite big - the front foils would have caught is first, and can deflect some of the debris some of the time. A great pity as these are the smoothest riding high speed vessels in the world!
chinese president has to apologise and pay multimillion dollar compensation :-))
apologise apologise apologise
Did passengers fasten their seatbelts as recommended? Answer: NO!
Because they never ever follow instructions!
There are semi-submerged containers in Hong Kong's water. I have seen a floating refrigerator once off of Cyberport. This is definitely no state secret as it is all over the local news and media. For information on the background of Turbojet, see ****en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TurboJET.
85 injured in HK ferry accident
Xinhua - ‎5 hours ago‎
TurboJet's manager Wong Man-chung said what the hydrofoil had hit was still unclear, adding no major damage to the vessel had been found and he believed that the boat was not speeding when the accident occurred. Up to now, the cause of the accident is ...
A floating refrigerator would not do anything to these ferries. They weight over 150tons and is therefore of no consequence. Even a floating container fully laden with water may slow the boat down, but would also not cause a catastrophic accident. Why? Simply because the boats are so much heavier than containers - and the foils built of duplex steel - it is unlikely that containers would cause a catastrophic accident. Rocks may - but that would be the case for any vessel with or without foils.
With sophisticated night vision and an extra person on board looking out for surface objects, large objects are easily avoided.
Felix_wong - The hydrofoil involved in the crash is owned and operated by China Travel Service which is a China state owned enterprise. Surely you dont expect the state media or a media regulated by the state to report something like this.... if they put up a report, they will need to be taken down within a few hours once the State security bureau sees them.....
The hydrofoils are far more dangerous than any other boat plying the HK Macau route. Long since disowned by Boeing - they should be avoided at all costs, because a simple collision with an underwater object can be catashtophic. Stick to the catamarans.
This crash is very reminiscent of the crash in 1999 involving another of the hydrofoils, when one of the foils struck an 'uncharted' wreck, killing an old lady.
I disagree, as you are not a hydrofoil expert and I am since I build hydrofoil assisted high speed boats.... If a normal high speed ferry ingested debris, the deceleration would have been severe as well. The difference here is there is only one scoop. The foils were not damaged here - but this vessel requires constant power to stay on foil - as do all high speed planing vessels. The problem partly lays in the fact that the boat will fall around 5 to 6 feet - but this would have been gradual - the cause of injury is because passengers did not use the seat belts, which are designed to hold them in place. Also the seats are rated to at least 12G. A large object that a catamaran hits would also decelerate very quickly - but agree that having 2 engines relatively far apart, the chance of both getting debris sucked up the intake may be less likely.
I have surfed through China's main news website, including i-feng and sina, no mention whatsoever about this incident. Is it a state secret? Why is there anything to hide?
Maybe it's a secret because the unidentified object was a Philippine submarine on sanctions patrol???




SCMP.com Account