2:40am, just back from several hours talking with people and taking pictures around YSW and the ferry pier, which was swarming with media from most major local organsations, some even doing live reporting on air. I've been trying to find out as much actual info as possible amidst all the rumours and accusations. I'll add my comments and photos in the morning, too tired now....
The best summary, mostly accurate but incomplete, I've seen so far is probably the (subscription-only) SCMP story updated less than an hour ago, see below).
"Boats collide near Lamma, 8 dead amid massive rescue
Monday, 01 October, 2012, 10:18pm [1:50am, 02 Oct]
Joyce Ng, Danny Mok, Simpson Cheung, Stuart Lau and Gary Cheung
A ferry collided with a kaito in waters off Lamma Island on Monday night, knocking passengers into the sea. At least eight people died in the incident as of 12.50am.
Police said 101 people had been rescued so far in waters off Yung Shue Wan. Eight people, including three children, were sent to Queen Mary Hospital. At least one was unconscious.
It was the second calamity to strike on National Day. Earlier, a 15-year-old youth was swept away in Shek O and drowned. A second boy was missing feared dead and a teenager girl was pulled from the water alive.
The accident happened at about 8.30pm when a Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry vessel collided with a Hong Kong Electric boat for staff activities in waters just off Yung Shue Wan.
There were 124 people on the HK Electric vessel. The party had set off from Lamma to Central to watch the National Day celebrations.
One of the vessels partially sank, with half of it sticking out of the water at an angle of 90 degrees.
A man brought ashore at the pier near South Horizons in Aberdeen said: “After 10 minutes out a boat crashed into ours from the side at very high speed. The rear of the ferry started to sink. I suddenly found myself deep under the sea. I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy. I don’t know where my two kids are.”
Another woman at the pier said: “I swam for a long time to the surface and swallowed a lot of water. Then I found a rescue boat.”
About a dozen passengers waiting for ambulances at the pier were wrapped with blankets and aluminium foil to keep warm.
The HK Electric boat was carrying 121 staff and family members and three crew members. It was on the way to watch the National Day fireworks display over Victoria Harbour when it hit the other boat five minutes after leaving Lamma, said a spokesman for HK Electric.
He said the boat can accommodate more than 200 passengers, and there were sufficient rescue facilities on the vessel.
The ferry was operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, which said several of its passengers were injured during the incident. The ferry was headed to Lamma Island from Hong Kong Island.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying arrived at the South Horizons pier at about 10.45pm. He said the government’s emergency co-ordination centre was now helping the rescue efforts.
“Relevant government departments are making all-out efforts to rescue people who fell into the sea after the collision. Senior officials and I will closely monitor the situation. We will do whatever we can,” he said.
Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man arrived at Queen Mary Hospital about 10.45pm to inspect the rescue operation.
A police officer said 20 survivors were admitted to Queen Mary Hospital, and the rest were sent to Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai and Eastern Hospital."
Adding a bit more detail to the SCMP story:
It was HKKF's 8pm Central-YSW ferry Sea Smooth (the one painted with the bright Asia's World City logos and ribbons) colliding on the front left side head-on with a Gaido carrying HK Electric staff and their families to see the fireworks, after a tour and dinner in the Power Station, at about 8:20pm just outside the light tower marker in-between YSW and Pak Kok Village, just below the Lamma Forest rocky outcrop above Pak Kok.
An eyewitness on the Sea Smooth said that there were only minor injuries and about 4 people went to the Lamma Clinic for a checkup after the ferry arrived at the YSW ferry pier, remaining there for several hours while the regular ferry services continued on the Pak Kok side of the pier.
HK Electric's Gaido capsized so quickly that many didn't have time to put on life vests. At least 20 are still missing and more casualties might sadly but likely be found by morning daylight by the divers....
Photos in processing, uploaded this morning....
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