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Transport and logistics

Sparks and loud noise alarm residents as cargo ship hits islet near Hong Kong housing estate

The Touska, an Iranian vessel, was on its way from Taiwan to Shenzhen

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 November, 2017, 9:41am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 November, 2017, 3:20pm

Hong Kong authorities are looking into why a heavily loaded cargo vessel mounted an islet near Ap Lei Chau, a small island connected by bridge to the south of the city, after apparently straying off course on Sunday night.

No one was injured when the 294-metre container vessel left a fairway on the East Lamma Channel before running into Magazine Island, an uninhabited islet about 400 metres off residential estate South Horizons on Ap Lei Chau, at about 9pm.

According to ship tracker Marine Traffic, the Touska, which flew an Iranian flag, departed Kaohsiung in Taiwan for Shenzhen on Friday.

Images taken by witnesses on shore showed sparks coming from the bow as it approached the islet. Marine police and the Fire Services Department later confirmed there was no fire on board.

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None of the 28 or so crew members were injured or missing.

The crash immediately caused a stir among nearby residents.

Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu, who witnessed the incident, told the Post he was working at home when he heard a loud noise, like a plane on a runway. When he looked out the window, he saw the vessel sailing unusually close to shore.

“It was just about 200 metres off the shore. Normally the big vessels would not come that close. I was puzzled because it was not a fairway. The ship roared along for about half a minute, and I saw it hit the island,” Lau said.

“The islet seemed to have stopped it from going further. It could have been running towards Wah Kwai Estate and a fish market [in Aberdeen], where some vessels were mooring.”

Lau said he had never seen anything like this in his 20 years in the estate. Visibility was normal at the time of the crash. The former journalist contacted a media outlet after the incident.

Another witness told the media: “I heard noise and saw sparks, because they dropped the anchor to slow [the ship] down.”

The Marine Department said it would launch an investigation.