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HONG KONG–Over 70 commuters were injured–some seriously–after their passenger ferry crashed into a mooring pillar after departure from an outlying island before dawn on Friday.
The Hong Kong Marine Department said some of the 76 injured on the central Hong Kong-bound ferry were airlifted to various hospitals, with one person in critical condition and two others seriously injured. In total, 10 of the passengers were hospitalized while most other injuries were minor.
The ferry was carrying around 140 passengers enroute from Cheung Chau, an island in the southwest of the city that is also a popular destination for tourists. The ferry crashed into the pillar just five minutes after departing from the Cheung Chau pier at around 0515 local time, the government department said. Passengers told local television that many were asleep when the accident took place and were thrown out of their seats.
New World First Ferry Services Ltd, which operated the ferry, said the skipper has 10 years of experience, but said it needs to investigate on the causes of the accident that took place in the dark though visibility was clear. The Marine Department said a preliminary report on the accident will be made available later Friday.
Thousands of Hong Kong residents residing in outlying islands such as Cheung Chau rely on ferries to commute into work each day. Though the city has some of world’s busiest shipping channels, serious marine accidents aren’t common.
First Ferry, a unit of infrastructure services firm NWS Holdings Ltd., is one of the city’s biggest ferry operators, with daily traffic of over 33,000 passengers, according to the company.
by Jeffrey Ng (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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