A ferry collided with a kaito in waters off Lamma Island on Monday night, knocking passengers into the sea and triggering a major rescue effort. Authorities have confirmed 25 people dead.
Acting deputy director of fire services, James Ng Kuen-chi, also said that as of 5am, 123 out of 124 passengers and crew on the boat had been rescued so far in waters near Yung Shue Wan.
It was the second calamity to strike on National Day. Earlier, a 15-year-old youth was swept away in Shek O and drowned. A second boy was missing feared dead and a teenager girl was pulled from the water alive.
The collision happened at about 8.30pm when a Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry vessel collided with a Hong Kong Electric boat for staff activities in waters just off Yung Shue Wan.
There were 124 people on the HK Electric vessel. The party had set off from Lamma to Central to watch the National Day celebrations.
One of the vessels partially sank, with half of it sticking out of the water at an angle of 90 degrees.
A man brought ashore at the pier near South Horizons in Aberdeen said: “After 10 minutes out a boat crashed into ours from the side at very high speed. The rear of the ferry started to sink. I suddenly found myself deep under the sea. I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy. I don’t know where my two kids are.”
Another woman at the pier said: “I swam for a long time to the surface and swallowed a lot of water. Then I found a rescue boat.”
Earlier, about a dozen passengers were waiting for ambulances at the pier were wrapped with blankets and aluminium foil to keep warm.
The HK Electric boat was carrying 121 staff and family members and three crew members. It was on the way to watch the National Day fireworks display over Victoria Harbour when it hit the other boat five minutes after leaving Lamma, said a spokesman for HK Electric.
He said the boat can accommodate more than 200 passengers, and there were sufficient rescue facilities on the vessel.
Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry earlier said several of its passengers were injured during the incident. The ferry was headed to Lamma Island from Hong Kong Island.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying arrived at the South Horizons pier at about 10.45pm. He said the government’s emergency co-ordination centre was now helping the rescue efforts.
“Relevant government departments are making all-out efforts to rescue people who fell into the sea after the collision. Senior officials and I will closely monitor the situation. We will do whatever we can,” he said.
Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man arrived at Queen Mary Hospital about 10.45pm to inspect the rescue operation.
A police officer said 20 survivors were admitted to Queen Mary Hospital, and the rest were sent to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai and Eastern Hospital.
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