June 19, 2013
Six crew arrested after Hong Kong ferry collision kills 37
Hong Kong police arrested six crew fter a ferry and a company boat carrying more than 120 staff and family celebrating the mid-autumn festival collided, killing 37 people as the boat sank.
The boat, belonging to Hongkong Electric Co, controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, was taking passengers to watch fireworks in the city's Victoria Harbour on Monday when the two vessels collided near the picturesque outlying island of Lamma.
Five children were among the dead. More than 100 people were taken to hospital, with nine suffering serious injuries or in critical condition, the government said in a statement.
"We suspect that somebody did not fulfil their responsibility, that's why we made the arrests," Police Commissioner Andy Tsang said. "We do not rule out the possibility that further arrests will be made."
The arrests involved crew of both vessels.
The collision sparked a major rescue involving dive teams, helicopters and boats that saw scores plucked from the sea. A large crane on a barge was connected to the stricken boat.
"Within 10 minutes, the ship had sunk. We had to wait at least 20 minutes before we were rescued," said one male survivor, wrapped in a blanket.
Survivors said people had to break windows to swim to the surface. "We thought we were going to die. Everyone was trapped inside," said a middle-aged woman.
The fireworks marked the mid-autumn festival, when the moon is full, and China's National Day. Hong Kong returned to Chinese from British rule in 1997.
Hongkong Electric, a unit of Power Assets Holdings which is controlled by Asia's richest man Li, said the boat had capacity to hold up to 200 people.
The tragedy was the worst to hit Hong Kong since 1996 when more than 40 people died in a fire in a commercial building.