Lifestyle & Belief

Captains in Hong Kong harbor collision that killed 39 charged with manslaughter


Mourners throw paper money into the sea during a ceremony held for the victims of the victims of a ferry collision off Lamma Island in Hong Kong on October 4, 2012.



The captains of two boats that collided off Lamma Island in Hong Kong in October, killing 39 in the city's deadliest maritime disaster in four decades, have been charged with manslaughter.

The two boats — the regular commuter ferry Sea Smooth and pleasure boat Lamma IV— collided on the night of Oct. 1 as Hong Kong was preparing to set off fireworks in Victoria Harbor to celebrate the founding of the People's Republic of China.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Sea Smooth was taking passengers home for the night to Lamma, an "island-bedroom community" popular with expatriates a mile south of Hong Kong's main island.

All those who died — eight of them children — were on board the Lamma IV, which had been carrying local power utility employees who's won a Hongkong Electric lottery to take their families to see the fireworks. The boat sank within minutes of the collision.

Another nearly 100 passengers were injured.

The Hong Kong police filed 39 counts of manslaughter against the captains, Chow Chi-wai, 56, and Lai Sai-ming, 54.

The men were released on 20,000 Hong Kong dollars ($2,600) bail each on condition they did not leave Hong Kong, Reuters wrote.

The government set up a commission to look into the crash, and it was due to report its findings later in April, the Associated Press reported.

The case was adjourned to May 9.

Reuters wrote that while Hong Kong operated one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, serious accidents are rare.

However, the area had become increasingly crowded with leisure boats and ferries taking people to the nearby gambling hub of Macau.

In Hong Kong's deadliest single maritime incident to date, in 1971, 88 people died in a ferry accident during a typhoon.