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Ferry accident death toll at 36

More than 100 injured in Hong Kong ferry accident

HONG KONG | October 2, 2012

The death toll from the collision of a boat with more than 120 people on a holiday outing and a ferry in Hong Kong rose to at least 36, authorities said.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua, quoting Hong Kong's Information Services Department, said the collision occurred Monday evening off Hong Kong's Lamma Island and that as of Tuesday morning, 36 had been confirmed dead. Of those, 28 died at the scene while another eight of the more than 100 injured died in hospitals.

Lamma Island is the third-largest island in Hong Kong.

The holiday boat was carrying more than 120 passengers and crew, rented by the Hong Kong Electric Co. for its staff celebrating China's mid- autumn festival. The other vessel was a regular ferry operated by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Co., Xinhua said.

The report said the ferry company boat was also carrying dozens of passengers but did not give a number.

The pleasure boat sank immediately after the collision, but the ferry company vessel was only damaged after the collision but did not sink, Xinhua said.

Britain's Sky News said the holiday boat was headed to Victoria Harbor to watch a fireworks display.

Hong Kong Electric director of operations S.S. Yuen was quoted as saying: "This is a very happy holiday and it turned out to be such a tragic incident."

More than 100 people had been rescued from the sea. Nine of them suffered serious injuries and remained in critical condition, Xinhua said. The condition of the others was not immediately known.

The cause of the collision was being investigated.

The South China Morning Post quoted an unidentified man aboard the holiday boat that he suddenly found himself in the sea.

"I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy. I don't know where my two kids are," he said.

Wu Jianzhi with Hong Kong's fire department said rescue efforts were hampered by both low night visibility and obstacles on the vessels and warned the death toll might rise.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Cy Leung, who arrived at the collision site, told reporters an emergency coordination center had been set up.

The rescue effort involved more than 200 fire department personnel and more than a dozen rescue boats.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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