CHINESE marine officials said last night that poor visibility had probably caused yesterday's accident between the Tai Ping and the Golden Navigator 2. They began taking statements last night for the investigation. Witnesses said 24 people on the Golden Navigator 2, travelling from Shekou to Zhongshan, were thrown into the sea about 31/2 nautical miles southwest of Shekou. Three passengers and one crew member, all mainlanders, failed to make it aboard the Tai Ping, heading from Tai Ping to Hong Kong. A Marine Department spokesman said Hong Kong would not run an independent investigation but would expect the findings of the Chinese to be passed to them as a matter of course. 'We would assist in every way possible but both vessels were registered in China so the Chinese marine authorities will look after the investigation,' the spokesman said. The Shekou harbour administration's deputy president Wang Rong Jing said he believed the accident had probably been caused by poor visibility. 'We have begun an investigation to make sure we know exactly what caused this. My staff began taking statements from the passengers and that has been a positive thing for us to find out the problem,' he said. The passengers on board the Golden Navigator were mostly business people heading to Zhongshan for meetings. Clad in ill-fitting clothes and wrapped in blankets supplied by the harbour administration at Shantou, the group sat clustered in groups around a conference table sipping tea late yesterday. It had been a long day but they were going through the final process of giving statements. When it came time to leave, they shook hands and wished each other well. Shenzhen businessman Wu Kuei-lan received cuts to his face during the sea drama but remained in good humour. 'It has been a tough day. I have been smoking more than usual to calm my nerves,' Mr Wu said. 'Everyone has been very helpful and kind to us.' Passengers on the Hong Kong-bound catamaran who arrived in the territory said the larger vessel hardly felt the force of the impact. One passenger on the catamaran, Lim Chim-kun, 40, said: 'We're safe because our boat is a big one and the other is very small. Otherwise, we would all have been in the water. At the time of the accident, it felt just like riding a horse.' Mr Lim, who owns a factory in Tai Ping, said: 'At the time of the accident, I was falling asleep and suddenly there was an impact but it did not feel like a serious one. 'Our boat was very stable. No one was thrown out of their seats and there were no screams. 'At first, I thought the boat was hitting a small object in the water. When I looked out from the window, I saw our boat was on top of another ferry and there was debris floating in the water.' Another passenger, Tsang Shu-wai, said: 'I saw about 10 people swimming in the water and later the rescued people were brought on board our boat. They sustained minor injuries and bruises but most were in a shocked state. We gave them cups of hot water and towels.'