Lamma ferry crash
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Life jackets on ferry were indeed hard to access

Complaints by passengers on board the Sea Smooth that their life jackets were hard to get to and difficult to put on have been confirmed after an investigation by the .

Teacher and Lamma resident Chris Head, 48, and Yat Man-cheng, 29 - who was on the lower deck with her husband Brian Kern, 47, and their 15-month-old daughter - both criticised the provision of life jackets.

On Friday, the took a Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry vessel to Lamma - one exactly the same as the Sea Smooth.

The life jacket was located under the seat. You had first to get down on your hands and knees and rip off a velcro flap before you could get your hands on the jacket. It took five to 10 minutes just pulling it out from under the seat as it was tightly wedged in place.

"It was really tricky getting the velcro off the life jacket and then getting it out from under the seat," Head said.

"None of us were in a panic to begin with, but once we realised how awkward it was to get the life jacket out and the time it was taking, everyone started to get very worried."

Putting on the life jacket was not straightforward either - the straps had to go round the back before being tied at the front. And we found only one A4-sized poster - in the rear of the ferry where you could easily miss - with instructions explaining how to put on the life jacket.

Head was also annoyed that when the ferry made it safely to Lamma pier, crew members stood around looking to get the life jackets back.

"None of the crew were very concerned if any of us were hurt … They were just afraid of us running off with their life jackets."

A marine source confirmed that the life jackets used on the Lamma ferry conformed to basic international requirements and standards, but that access to them was an issue.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Life jackets far too tricky for comfort