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This article coutesy of the Hong Kong SCMP.

Collision claims its 39th fatality as initial investigation finds that the two captains failed to post a lookout as catastrophe loomed.

Rescuers check the Lamma IV.

The death toll in the National Day ferry disaster last night rose to 39 when one of its youngest victims died of her injuries, four days after the two passenger vessels collided off Lamma Island.

After the government raised the death toll by one, a source at Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital said nine-year-old Tsui Hoi-ying had died of multiple organ failure at 8.53pm. She is the eighth child to have died in the disaster, in which her father, Tsui Chi-wai, 42, also died. Her mother is still being treated in hospital.

The announcement of her death came shortly before rescuers announced, at 10.40pm, that they had called off their search for any more victims or survivors.

The government said police investigations had accounted for all people on board the Lamma IV launch and the Sea Smooth ferry at the time of Monday’s collision, and that they would now be speaking to witnesses.

A government source with knowledge of the investigation into the accident suggested that lapses by both skippers contributed to the collision.

Both captains had apparently failed to keep a proper lookout and took insufficient action to avoid a collision that led to the city’s deadliest maritime disaster in four decades, according to the source, who added that each captain should have been able to see the other’s vessel approaching.

“They should have seen each other because they were running on a reciprocal [head-on] course,” the source said. “From the extent of the damage, [it seems] the two boats were travelling at speed. Both parties apparently failed to take sufficient action to avoid the collision.”

More than 100 police officers are now focusing on criminal liability. The Marine Department will concentrate mainly on the cause of the collision.

Investigations thus far have shown that the two vessels were travelling at their normal operating speeds – 13 to 14 knots for the Lamma IV and more than 20 knots for the Sea Smooth – at the time of impact. The source said this suggested the captains had “failed to slow down or did not have time to reduce the speed of their vessels”.

Police have taken initial statements from 80 survivors who were taken to hospitals. They aim to approach as many passengers as possible, except children, to take detailed statements. Accounts of the collision will also be sought from some of the 1,000 disciplined services officers who took part in the rescue.

Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry, operator of the Sea Smooth, and Hongkong Electric both said they would not comment on anything related to the investigation at this stage.

The 24-metre Lamma IV, carrying 124 passengers and three crew, had a nine-square-metre hole ripped in the left rear of its hull and the damage extended into its engine room.

A maritime specialist who declined to be named said the Lamma IV was unlikely to be repaired and would probably be broken up once the investigation and any criminal proceedings had been completed.

The day after the collision, police arrested seven crew members, including the two skippers, on suspicion of endangering the safety of others at sea. All seven were granted bail.

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Article from UK Telgraph

Seven-year-old British boy among Hong Kong ferry victims

A seven-year-old British boy and his mother were among 38 killed in Hong Kong’s
worst maritime disaster in decades, it emerged on Wednesday.

Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday evening released a list of 11 of the people who had been killed in Monday night’s ferry disaster, naming the British victim as Nicholas Chi-ho Belshaw. His mother, Wendy Ie Hwie, 44, also died, according to the list.

Earlier, the Foreign Office confirmed one British national was among those killed when two passenger boats collided on Monday night.

Nicholas and his mother were among 124 people travelling on the Lamma IV boat when it crashed into a passenger ferry called Sea Smooth.

While the damaged Sea Smooth managed to find its way back to port, survivors said the Lamma IV sank within minutes of impact, plunging many of its passengers into the water.

“I could see it going upright and sinking, just like the Titanic,” Chris Head, a teacher who was on the Sea Smooth, told the South China Morning Post.

By the time rescue workers arrived at the scene, it was already too late for some.

The Ship sank in minutes. Some passengers said they had been trapped inside the ship and had to break windows underwater in order to escape.

Fireman Wong Tsz-kiu told the Hong Kong-based newspaper how he battled to rescue an eight-year-old girl.

“I pulled her out of the water unconscious and performed CPR on her hoping to resuscitate her. Then I handed her over to the paramedics in the main boat, and they told me she was gone. Only then did I cry.”

By Wednesday morning, the official death toll had reached 38, including five children. Seven crew members – including the captains of both vessels – have been placed under arrest for “endangering the safety of others at sea”.

The tragedy – described as Hong Kong’s worst maritime disaster since a ferry travelling between Hong Kong and Macau sunk in 1971 killing 88 people – has ignited a mix of grief and anger among Hong Kongers.

Questions have been raised over how such an accident could happen given the modern-technology used by such vessels and why the Sea Smooth did not appear to have stayed on the scene to help victims from the Lamma IV.

Port officials say an investigation could take up to six months and authorities have yet to present the cause of the accident. The director of the company that owns the Sea Smooth ferry, has rejected accusations of a “hit and run”.

On Wednesday night around 1,200 mourners, among them survivors, gathered at Hong Kong’s Catholic cathedral for a remembrance service led by archbishop John Tong.

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