A tour boat in Hong Kong sank after a collision with a ferry, causing the boat to sink and resulting in the death of at least 37 people.
The Llama IV, owned by utility company Power Assets Holdings Ltd.,was taking its employees and their family to Victoria Habor to watch fireworks for China's National Day and mid-autumn festival, according to the Associated Press. The boat trip was supposed to be a joyous occasion, but it quickly turned deadly as the boat collided with a ferry from the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry company and started to sink.
The boat started sinking rapidly after the 8:23 p.m. collission on Monday night. Half of its bow was left sticking up in the water in a Titanic-like scene. More than 100 people were rescued and tranported to hospitals. A body found on the boat brought the death toll up to 37 so far. Five children are among the dead. Salvage crews worked to raise to sinking boat.
The ferry was damaged but the captain was afraid it would sink so it didn't stop. It was able to bring its passengers safely to shore. Some of them were treated for injuries.
It is not clear how the two vessels collided as the waterways are tightly regulated and both boats had lights which would make them easy to see before they collided off Llama Island. Due to this, it is believed human error is involved.
Six crew members were arrested from the two boats for suspicion of operating the boats unsafely, leaving passengers in danger.
"We suspect that somebody did not fulfill their responsibility, that's why we made the arrests," Police Commissioner Andy Tsang said, according to Reuters. "We do not rule out the possibility that further arrests will be made."
Some survivors recalled the events when they were back on shore. One woman said she swallowed a lot of water as she swam back to land. Another survivor is still trying to find his two kids. "After 10 minutes out a boat crashed into ours from the side at very high speed. The rear... started to sink. I suddenly found myself deep under the sea," the man told The South China Morning Post. "I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy."
"After the accident, it was all chaos and people were crying. Then water began seeping in and the vessel began to tilt to one side and people were all told to stand on the other side and everyone started putting on life jackets," a passenger told Reuters.
As ordered by Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, the incident is under a full investigation. Three days of mourning were declared starting Thursday.
Boat collissions are rare among the waters of Hong Kong. This tragedy was the worst incident in the city since a fire that killed 40 people in 1996.