2 Oct 2012

At least 36 die in Hong Kong boat collision

8:30 pm on 2 October 2012

A collision between two passenger boats off Hong Kong has killed at least 36 people and a big search is on for survivors.

One of the boats was carrying more than 120 people to a fireworks display when it half-sank in the collision near Lamma Island, about 3km south-west of Hong Kong Island, at 8.30 on Monday night local time.

Twenty-eight people were pronounced dead at the scene. About 100 others have been taken to hospital, eight of whom are since said to have died.

A Hong Kong government statement says: "Over 100 people were sent to five hospitals during the incident, nine of them have sustained serious injuries or are in critical condition."

The fire department has not yet been able to rule out that there are still people inside the half-sunken vessel, the BBC reports.

The collision occurred during a busy period for passenger travel in Hong Kong, at the end of a long holiday weekend to mark the mid-autumn festival that this year coincides with China's National Day on 1 October.

Power company Hong Kong Electric had reportedly hired a boat to take staff and family members to watch National Day fireworks in Victoria Harbour.

The vessel and another boat - reportedly operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry - collided, causing the HK Electric vessel to list.

The ferry was reportedly only slightly damaged and returned safely to port.