One of the vessels involved in last year's Lamma ferry tragedy did not have enough crew members at the time of the accident, a court heard yesterday.
The Marine Department charged the Hongkong Electric Company, which was the owner of the Lamma IV, with being the owner of a local vessel that did not have enough qualified crew on board.
The summons, which the department filed in April, said Lamma IV was required to have at least four crew on board according to its licence and certificate, but it had only three on the night of October 1, when it collided with the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry-operated passenger ferry Sea Smooth.
Hongkong Electric denies the allegation.
Testifying in Eastern Court yesterday, Wong Tai-wah, a passenger on the Lamma IV, said he had seen only three crew members on the upper deck, including one steering the ferry.
But Wong, who lost his wife in the accident, admitted that because he was on the upper deck he had no idea whether there were any more crew on the lower deck.
The Marine Department's senior surveyor of ships, Tang Kwong-fai, said that according to the certificate and licence held by Lamma IV, it was required to have at least four crew on board on each journey.
The company did not call any witness.
Magistrate David Chum Yau-fong adjourned the case to August 19 when he would deliver the verdict.
Many survivors, crew members and experts testified at a commission of inquiry set up to investigate the accident, which claimed 39 lives including those of eight children.
It released its report in May.