The captains of two vessels that collided off Lamma Island on October 1 made their first appearance in court yesterday, facing a combined 78 counts of manslaughter. Chow Chi-wai, 56, captain of Hongkong Electric's Lamma IV, and Lai Sai-ming, 55, captain of the Sea Smooth, operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, are each charged with 39 counts of manslaughter. Chow and Lai were represented by Gerard McCoy SC and Audrey Campbell-Moffat, respectively, in Eastern Court. The pair are accused of unlawfully killing 39 people by gross negligence. The victims died on October 1, 2 and 5. Some died at the scene and some in hospital. Court documents say Chow owed a duty of care to his passengers and Lai to other vessels and their passengers. They were allegedly in breach of that duty of care by failing to keep a proper lookout, and to take any effective measures or steps to avoid the collision. The gross negligence caused by the breach of duty was allegedly a substantial cause of the death of the victims. Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai adjourned the case to May 9 upon the request of Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos. Zervos said the prosecution needed four weeks to prepare documents, and on the next occasion it would ask for a return-day hearing. Chow and Lai were released on HK$20,000 cash bail each. The court also ordered them to surrender all their travel documents.