39th victim dies in Hong Kong maritime tragedy

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Associated Press

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 5 at 10:33 PM

HONG KONG (AP) — The death toll from Hong Kong's biggest maritime tragedy in decades has risen to 39 and rescue workers have called off the search for any more missing, authorities said.

Hong Kong's government said late Friday that another person had died following a collision between a commuter ferry and a smaller boat carrying people to see a holiday fireworks display Monday evening.

All 39 dead and most of the nearly 100 injured were aboard the smaller boat, the Lamma IV, which was carrying 124 passengers and three crew. It had just departed Lamma Island, off the southwest coast of main Hong Kong island, and was heading for Victoria Harbour when it collided with the Sea Smooth ferry and sank rapidly.

Police have arrested seven crew members from the two boats, including both captains.

The government also said rescuers had called off their search for any more missing people after accounting for everyone aboard both vessels.

The tragedy has shocked Hong Kong, where fleets of ferries form the backbone of the city's transportation network.

The smaller boat was owned by utility company Hong Kong Electric Co., which was taking staff and family members to see Chinese National Day fireworks.

Hong Kong's Marine Department is investigating the cause of the collision, while police are carrying out a criminal investigation.

The crash was Hong Kong's worst maritime disaster since 88 people died in a ferry accident during a typhoon in 1971. Large-scale accidents are rare in the semiautonomous enclave off mainland China, which has one of Asia's most advanced infrastructures and economies, with first-rate public services.

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