The vessel that smashed into a vital bridge on Friday evening linking Hong Kong to its international airport - crippling one of the world's leading aviation hubs for several hours - was in breach of height limits, according to the city's chief executive Leung Chun-ying. Marine officials are questioning the captain of a barge that ploughed into the Kap Shui Mun Bridge, which along with the connecting Tsing Ma Bridge make up the crucial Lantau Link, over "licence breaches" as concerns mount over how a single incident could plunge the city into chaos so quickly. The collision triggered an alarm system that closed off both the Kap Shui Mun and Tsing Ma bridge sections of the Lantau Link, effectively cutting Lantau and the airport off from the rest of the city. Extra ferries were laid on and the bridges were reopened after about two hours but thousands of people were inconvenienced and scores of flights delayed. Speaking on Saturday morning, Leung said the height of the vessel was found to have exceeded the licence limits. Backing the decision to close the bridge for safety reasons, he said the impact on transport had been minimised and fewer than 100 passengers missed their flights as a result. In a bid to reassure the public that traffic links are being improved to reduce people's dependence on the bridge, Leung added that a tunnel between Tuen Mun and Chek Lap Kok, where the airport is located, is being constructed and will be in operation in three years. He made the comments after convening an inter-departmental meeting with Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung in the morning to receive updates on the situation from representatives of the Transport Department, Highways Department and Airport Authority Hong Kong. Leung said they also discussed follow-up actions. The Highways Department will carry out more detailed inspection to ensure the safety of the bridge, while the Transport and Housing Bureau, the Transport Department, the Airport Authority, the MTR Corporation and other government departments will draw experience from the incident to further improve emergency response arrangements, he said. The Marine Department will continue to investigate the incident with the police to determine who was responsible, he added. Chaos erupted on Friday evening when the barge collided with the bridge. This triggered an alarm and led to its emergency closure at about 7.40pm, paralysing traffic and stranding thousands of passengers at the airport while leaving others scrambling to get to their flights. Tsing Ma Management Company suspended all road and rail services for two hours to make checks on Kap Shui Mun Bridge. It reopened about two hours later. Director of Highways Peter Lau Ka-keung last night said there was no structural damage to the bridge and more inspections would be carried out today. "After a vessel collided with the bridge, we had to check carefully before it could open," he explained. Asked how one bridge closure could cause such chaos, Lau admitted it was the only direct link to the airport and was the result of planning dating back to the 1980s. READ MORE: Hong Kong hub struggles to find cure to flight backlogs All six lanes of upper roadway and both lanes of lower roadway were shut last night, along with the MTR’s Airport Express and Tung Chung line beyond Tsing Yi. Angry drivers grilled staff at the toll plaza on Tsing Yi as to when the bridge would reopen as traffic jams stretched back to the Cheung Tsing Tunnel. There were also queues back to Sunny Bay on Lantau as frustrated drivers waited to get to Kowloon. As well as suspending services to the airport, the MTR closed its in-town check-in service at the request of the bridge operator. With no transport to the airport – except a circuitous route using ferries and buses – air crew as well as passengers were left stranded. A couple heading to catch a 1am flight to Seoul said the MTR failed to give clear instructions. “We are so helpless. We have been stuck for more than an hour,” said the man. “The MTR did not give us clear instructions or inform us what has been happening.” Another angry passenger said she was instructed by an MTR employee to take a ferry from Central to Discovery Bay – a journey of about half an hour – then change to an airport bus. The MTR Corporation said the closures were a result of the emergency on the bridge. It said it could not provide shuttle services due to congestion on the road. Because of the transport problems, flights departing after 11pm Friday, including to London, Istanbul, Johannesburg and Los Angeles, were delayed by up to an hour. Opened in 1997, the Tsing Ma Bridge is the world’s longest combined road and rail suspension bridge and the ninth-longest span suspension bridge in the world. It cost HK$7.2 billion and was part of a massive campaign of engineering work to support the new airport at Chek Lap Kok.