Hong Kong residents and officials mourn the deaths of 38 individuals – including four children – who died in a boat accident Monday night. Flags flew at half mast and national leaders observed three minutes of silence Thursday in memoriam of the victims of the ferry collision that has shocked Chinese authorities.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ving led the memorial service at the government headquarters located at the harbor. Monday’s accident has been called the worst maritime accident in 40 years to befall Hong Kong. The accident involved a high-speed ferry, the Sea Smooth, colliding with a pleasure craft called the Lamma IV, which had been carrying about 120 staff and friends of local power company Hong Kong Electric who had been out at sea to observe a fireworks show in commemoration of China’s National Holiday. Upon impact, the Lamma IV’s left rear was torn open, throwing dozens of passengers into the sea. The vessel’s stern flooded within minutes of the accident and trapped passengers underwater as the boat submerged.
Officials from across the world have offered their condolences for victims and their loved ones, including the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who said the boat accident was “a serious blow to a city for which the sea is its soul.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron also offered his condolences after receiving confirmation that an unidentified Briton was among those who perished and US Consul General Stephen Young released a statement expressing his “deepest condolences” for those whose lives were lost in the tragedy at sea.
Investigators have pulled the Lamma IV out of the water and have initiated a probe to uncover what caused the vessel to sink so quickly, whether there was enough safety equipment onboard and if the captain was abiding by maritime rules. Surviving victims are still in shock over the boat accident and are also trying to make sense of the incident.
Survivor Ivan Lee told AFP on Wednesday that he “never thought such a tragedy would happen here and so many people would die.” Lee is a building contractor who was onboard the Lamma IV with his wife and two young children.
“In less than a minute, the boat started to list and the water was coming in…as I put the life jacket over my son’s head, we were already under water,” explained Lee. “I thought my whole family would die there.”
The owner of Hong Kong Electric, Li Ka-shing, and his family have offered HK$200,000 ($25,800USD) to the next of kin of those who died in the maritime accident. As kind of a gesture as that is, it is the boat operator’s responsibility to offer compensation to victims, especially after five crewmembers from both vessels and both captains were arrested over negligence charges. Passengers said there was absolute chaos onboard both vessels after the collision and no one seemed to know how to properly handle an emergency boat accident situation. Around 100 passengers were wounded in the collision and one remains in critical condition.
If this boat accident was the result of the vessels’ operators, then a negligence lawsuit may be filed by surviving victims and loved ones of the deceased. Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has been representing those who were hurt or killed due to maritime law violations since 1971 and fight for the rights of those involved to receive compensation for their pain and suffering. If you or a loved one was hurt or killed in a boat accident, contact our boat accident lawyers immediately to discuss your options and see how you can file a maritime case to protect your rights.