Captain Sentenced to Eight Years In Jail Over 2012 Hong Kong Ferry Disaster

A large gash can be seen on the Lamma IV's starboard side after the ship was pulled from the water in October 2012. Photo courtesy trey.menefee
A large gash can be seen on the Lamma IV’s starboard side after the ship was pulled from the water in October 2012. Photo courtesy trey.menefee

The captain of a passenger ferry has been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in jail for his role in the fatal 2012 Lamma ferry disaster near Hong Kong in which 39 people lost their lives.

Captain Lai Sai-ming was Master of the Sea Smooth commuter ferry on October 1, 2012 when it struck the passenger vessel Lamma IV, causing the Lamma IV to sink and resulting in 39 deaths and over 100 injured.

On Saturday, a jury in Hong Kong convicted Sai on 39 counts of manslaughter and for endangering the safety of others at sea.

The Lamma IV was chartered by Hong Kong Electric and used to shuttle employees from to Victoria Harbor from Lamma Island, southwest of Hong Kong Island, for a fireworks display to mark China’s National Day when it was struck on its starboard side by the Sea Smooth. The Sea Smooth was also damaged in the collision, but continued onto its destination.

Meanwhile, the captain of the Lamma IV, Chow Chi-wai, was acquitted of manslaughter charges but was sentenced to nine months in jail after being found guilty of endangering the safety of others at sea.

The Lamma ferry disaster is considered Hong Kong’s worst maritime disaster in more than four decades.