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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:56 am 
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Video report and interviews about Yung Shue Wan 1 month after the Ferry Disaster - Lamma Island Revisited, by Cindy Xu Xin & Ma Ning :

http://cindyxuxin.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/lamma-island-revisited/


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:57 pm 
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Submitted by Rural Committee:


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Press release by HK Electric:

Lamma Boat Tragedy Donation
Expected to Raise more than HK$6.3 million [6 December 2012]

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:28 am 
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(C) SCMP, Dec 5, by Simpson Cheung:

Lamma ferry disaster survivor 'a changed person'

"It was supposed to be an enjoyable day out at sea for the couple who were planning to get married next year when they set off from Lamma Island on October 1 to catch the National Day fireworks display. Now only one of them is around to see the wedding photos they had taken.

A woman who attended yesterday's inquest into October's deadly ferry crash off Lamma Island which claimed 39 lives, revealed how her son, identified as Mr Tang, formerly a computer engineer with Hongkong Electric, survived the collision but failed to save his fiancée, surnamed Cheung.

"He became very ill-tempered after the incident, as if he had become a totally different person. He would get furious if anyone touched his fiancée's belongings," said the woman, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Tang, during a break in the inquest.

Tang said her son, who is in his 30s, had planned to marry his fiancée next June. The couple had done their wedding photo shoot earlier and the pictures would be ready for collection this month.

"I may just put the photos away so that my son will not see them," said Tang, adding that her family would also cancel the booking of the wedding banquet.

Tang said her son recalled two or three impacts after the initial crash had occurred.

She said that Cheung lost a tooth after the vessel lurched violently a second time. Her son fetched a lifebuoy for his fiancée, but as Cheung was putting it on, the vessel lurched again and the couple were separated.

Tang said her son hammered against the window of the ferry with his hands and his head in a bid to escape the sinking Lamma IV but to no avail. He waited for rescuers but eventually decided he needed to get out. Tang, who cannot swim, dived into the water and found a hole at the bottom of the vessel which he managed to escaped out of. His fiancée was later found dead, she said.

Tang blamed the large number of casualties in the accident on the slow pace of rescue work. She claimed that only one fireman had attended the incident.

She said her son suffered limb and back injuries, among others, from the collision. He was also still seeing a psychiatrist.

Tang said her son had recounted his horrific on the Lamma IV to her only once and refused to do so again, even at the inquest."
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(C) SCMP, Dec 5, by Simpson Cheung:

Lamma ferry disaster inquiry opens with minute's silence

"A preliminary hearing into the collision between two passenger ferries off Lamma Island that claimed 39 lives on the National Day holiday on October 1 opened on Wednesday.

Before the hearing began, Mr Justice Lunn – chairman of the commission of inquiry appointed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to investigate the accident – led commission members, lawyers and members of the public attending the hearing in observing a minute's silence in remembrance of the victims of the tragedy.

Director of Public Prosecutions Kevin Zervos SC applied to adjourn the hearing until mid-January to allow police time to finish their investigations and to let the Department of Justice to reach a decision on whether to lay charges against the seven ferry crew members arrested.

Zervos said the ongoing police probe and possible criminal trial could be affected by the premature release of information into the public domain during the commission’s hearing.

Charles Sussex SC, representing HK & Kowloon Ferry and crew of the Sea Smooth, and Clive Grossman SC, representing Hongkong Electric and crew of the Lamma IV, also applied to adjourn the hearing until January, arguing that they needed more preparation time to go through some 30 boxes of documents and a report prepared by British maritime expert Captain Nigel Pryke.

More than 50 survivors, relatives of the deceased and members of the public as well as 30 reporters filled the inquest room in main wing of the former Central Government Offices in Central, and a second room to which the proceedings were broadcast live.

Some 42 people, including Captain Pryke, two Marine Department staff, a police officer, and 38 passengers from Sea Smooth, Lamma II and Lamma IV, were listed as witnesses.

The seven crew members who were arrested, management staff from the two companies owning the vessels and other rescuer workers were expected to be called as witnesses.

An initial hearing date was set at weekdays from December 12 to 21, January 7 to February 8, and February 18, until completion of the hearing, starting from 10am to 1pm and 2.30pm to 4.30pm – except on December 17 when only the afternoon session was available.

The hearing will be open to the public and conducted in English.

Mr Justice Lunn noted the hearing was not a trial and would not determine criminal liability.

He adjourned the hearing until Friday, when he will rule on whether to approve Zervos, Sussex and Grossman’s applications to adjourn the hearing."

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:09 pm 
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I'm surprised that this forum is so quiet.

Read a couple of weeks ago in the SCMP that apparently there are minor ferry crashes quite frequently. Ferry staff get a slap on the wrist basically for putting passengers at risk. I would have posted the link, but I don't have SCMP subcsription. Thought you would have posted it LG :-)

After such a tragedy, and a wake up call against complacency,... the ferry guys still pile into the cabin once the ferry sets sail, and there are no staff on deck during the voyage.

And I won't even go into the Marine Department's response, that the doors were not locked on the new ferry, when many passengers knew that they were.

Since the tragedy, I find it frustrating to see such disregard for safety and no changes in staff attitude.

Thankfully the judge 'threw out the case' delaying the beginning of an inquiry into the disaster. About time the inquiry started, and then maybe the ferry staff will pay more attention. And families of grieved ones will have a sense of closure.

It shouldn't have happened.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:48 pm 
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I Agee with you 1000% that the ferries are in general operated recklessly as the number of accidents and lack of accountability shows what I would call willful disregard of safety.

But on the staff going into the pilot house.... Well it all depends on what they are doing in there. If they are smoking m joking so to speak that's a problem as it distracts the helmsmen from his job. However , if they are on watch , well the more eyes the better. But of course how can we know what is going on on there? There should be a window or someway we can see what is going on in there!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:40 pm 
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The hearing opens tomorrow.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:06 am 
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Lamma ferry disaster captains 'had 3 minutes to avoid crash'

Commission of inquiry into disaster that left 39 dead is told ferry Sea Smooth and Lamma IV should have been clearly visible to each other

Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 12:00am

Simpson Cheung simpson.cheung@scmp.com


The captains of the two vessels that collided off Lamma Island killing 39 people should have been able to see each other's ships three minutes before they crashed, the commission of inquiry into the tragedy was told yesterday.

Counsel for the commission Paul Shieh Wing-tai SC said that according to the Observatory, visibility was clear and the wind was light at the time of the crash - 8.20pm on October 1 - and the weather and tide were not affecting navigation.

Shieh was making his opening remarks at the start of the main hearing by the commission. A preliminary hearing was held last week.

By the time the Hongkong Electric boat Lamma IV had cleared its berth and was under way, it was within two nautical miles of the ferry Sea Smooth.

"By 8.17pm, they should have been within sight of one another by radar and visually," he said.

An animation from radar data, played at the hearing, showed that Sea Smooth - with four crew and at least 62 passengers - was travelling at 24 nautical miles an hour about 20 seconds before the collision.

Lamma IV, with three crew and 124 passengers, was travelling at 11.5 nautical miles an hour.

Radar diagrams presented to the commission showed that the routes taken by the two vessels during the period of the crash overlapped three times.

Further analysis of the radar data is expected by other witnesses, including a British expert.

But the accuracy of the data was questioned by James McGowan SC, representing the owner and crew of Lamma IV.

The commission heard that the Sea Smooth disengaged from the Lamma IV after the crash, leaving part of its hull inside the stricken vessel, which sank in less than five minutes.

The first emergency call was made by a passenger on Lamma IV one minute after the crash.

Two minutes later, the captain of Sea Smooth informed the Marine Department's Vessel Traffic Centre in Sheung Wan by radio.

"My [vessel] collided with a Hongkong Electric vessel [near] the Lamma Patch," Captain Lai Sai-ming said in an audio clip played yesterday.

The centre's log book, presented at the hearing, showed the crash was noted at 8.25pm and that a rescue was under way.

The department's assistant director in port control, marine police and the fire services had been informed.

Six minutes after the crash, at 8.26pm, the Sea Smooth captain reconnected with the control centre. He said: "Water is flooding into the vessel's port, its starboard side.

"Water is flooding into the vessel. I am now taking passengers to [Yung Shue Wan pier]".

The hearing continues today.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:33 am 
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HK Electric submission to "Commission of Inquiry into the Collision of Vessels near Lamma Island"

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:25 am 
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Maritime Expert Says Human Error Caused Hong Kong Ferry Crash

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From that blog post above, some pretty strong evidence against Sea Smooth's captain:

Quote:
Maritime rules dictate that when two vessels are about to experience a head-on collision, each are supposed to turn starboard, or right, thus avoiding a crash. While the Lamma IV altered its course 13 degrees starboard, Mr. Pryke noted that the Sea Smooth captain turned 16 degrees to the left-hand port side, instead.

Such a move, he said, was done “in an apparent attempt to cross ahead of Lamma IV.”

While the Lamma IV could have done more to avoid a collision, including by being more attentive to radar readings, Mr. Pryke—whose analysis relied on radar tracking information and other evidence provided by Hong Kong authorities—said that the fault was mostly the Sea Smooth’s.

“Even at the very last moment she could have very easily avoided contact with a small alteration of course to starboard,” he said. The Sea Smooth, he said, “was primarily responsible for the collision,” and human error was “undoubtedly” responsible for the crash—error perhaps fueled by the fact that the captain had been alone in the wheelhouse.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:11 am 
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Rach wrote:
From that blog post above, some pretty strong evidence against Sea Smooth's captain:

Quote:
Maritime rules dictate that when two vessels are about to experience a head-on collision, each are supposed to turn starboard, or right, thus avoiding a crash. While the Lamma IV altered its course 13 degrees starboard, Mr. Pryke noted that the Sea Smooth captain turned 16 degrees to the left-hand port side, instead.

Such a move, he said, was done “in an apparent attempt to cross ahead of Lamma IV.”

While the Lamma IV could have done more to avoid a collision, including by being more attentive to radar readings, Mr. Pryke—whose analysis relied on radar tracking information and other evidence provided by Hong Kong authorities—said that the fault was mostly the Sea Smooth’s.

“Even at the very last moment she could have very easily avoided contact with a small alteration of course to starboard,” he said. The Sea Smooth, he said, “was primarily responsible for the collision,” and human error was “undoubtedly” responsible for the crash—error perhaps fueled by the fact that the captain had been alone in the wheelhouse.


Yes, when I received my captains license I did an 80 hour course in Lieu of test. At the course we where taught that you always change course to starboard to avoid collision in a crossing situation. Several students came up with various scenarios of why you may wish to turn port in order to better able to avoid collision. The experienced captains teaching the course warned us, "If you EVER turn to port to avoid a collision, and ANY collision still happens, you had better be able to defend in court WHY you made that move. And you will have an uphill battle no matter what."

This is exactly what I thought (and even more so now beleive) would be the final determination. I think there are no surprises yet.

Sea Smooth will still not bear 100% of responsibility. The rules also require you to operate you vessel in a speed and manner reasonable to conditions and to take whatever actions need to be taken to avoid collision. The fact there was a collision (in almost all cases) show that BOTH captains did not do this, for if even ONE of them did, there would have been no collision.

Since Lamma IV could see Sea Smooth, saw they were on collision course, and did not alter her course to starboard or reduce speed in time, regardless that she had right of way over Sea Smooth, at least a portion of the blame still rests with Lamma IV.

Sea Smoth altering course to get ahead of a boat that has rights over her, and Lamma IV's (apparent) refusal to give way when she had rights is a situation I have witnessed more than 20 times in my 15 months on Lamma. It is still going on on a regular basis, I have seen it several times since 1 OCT.

I HAVE noticed one difference, vessels do now occasionally slow down! WOW! Before they would just make drastic course changes at the last minute, never back off the throttle, and challenge each other for who was going to have that water. It is a (single) step in the right direction. But it needs to continue to improve.

The quote also speaks of the captain being alone in the wheelhouse. I know there are complaints on here of the crew piling in the pilot house. A vessel like either of these would require a MINIMUM of 2 persons on the bridge, 3 would be more realistic, and in our crowded waters 4 is even better. As long as they are doing what they a supposed to and not distracting each other with lunch and idle chatter.

I think duties in the pilot house while underway at speed would look like this (ideally)
1 at the helm
1 on port side watch
1 on starboard side watch
1 Master to navigate, monitor radio and radar, make the decisions, and make sure everyone is on task

How big is the entire crew? and when you approach the berth at least 2 need to head down to handle the lines.

Also radar would have provided early clear warning of a collision course. These ferries do not normally operate radar although it is REQUIRED. The night following the accident I stood on Lamma Pier and watched as two ferries in a row came in with no radar operating in the dark. I did not witness the accident so I do not know if either had their radars on, but I bet $100 HKD they did not. Vessels are more often running radars now, according to my informal survey (looking at everyone I get my eyes on)

AIS location systems have been required for several years on these vessels and would also provide early clear warning of a collision, even giving you information on WHEN it is likely to happen. I wonder if they turn on those or even use them properly?

My prediction is that it will be 80/20. 80% to Sea Smooth 20% Lamma IV.

I think the real solution is holding the operators accountable for their reckless operation. And having them KNOW that when they push these limits there will be penalties. Why are the minor collisions so easily let go, there is rarely a small fine or letter issued when these boats have minor collisions. How about suspended without pay (captain for sure and maybe the crew too) for a month if there is ANY touching of commercial passenger vessels?

Lets hope some real, and lasting, changes happen. If not it is only a matter of time before another accident.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 4:42 pm 
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Testimonies from HKKF ferry Sea Smooth passengers:

(C) SCMP, Dec 21, 2012 - by Simpson Cheung

Ferry crew faced conflicting demands from passengers, crash inquiry told

Some Sea Smooth passengers wanted to help with the rescue; others wanted to sail to the pier


Passengers of the Sea Smooth told a commission of inquiry yesterday the crew faced calls to both stay behind to help rescue people and to sail back to the pier so the injured could be treated.

Chung Kin-hing, 39, who was on the upper deck with his girlfriend, recalled feeling an impact when the vessel collided with the Lamma IV on October 1 off Lamma Island, with some passengers being thrown from their seats. At first, he did not know what had happened. A crew member told passengers there was no need to put on lifejackets.

Chung saw an expatriate woman point to the stern of the ship and tell the skipper: "We should go back", which Chung later understood to mean rescue people who were on board the Lamma IV.

He looked outside the window and saw a ship sinking in the distance. At that moment, crew members urged people to put on the lifejackets.

Yip Man-fai, 47, said he saw a drainage hole that resembled a manhole on the lower deck burst open and water gush out. He heard a "roar" from passengers, with some asking the crew: "Why have we stopped right here? [We] request to sail back to the pier."

After a couple of minutes, he heard the engine start up again and the Sea Smooth began to sail to the Yung Shue Wan pier.

Wong Wing-see, 35, a housewife who was on the lower deck with her son, said she saw an expatriate man fall down the staircase, injuring his head. She heard a man say: "Get sailing. It is pointless for you to stay here. The pier is within sight. Why don't you start sailing?"

She heard an expatriate woman with a baby in her arms talking but a voice told her to "shut up". Wong guessed the woman was trying to say her baby was injured.

Leanders Rebanks, 52, who was at the front of the lower deck, said he saw a strong light approaching about 10 seconds before the crash. He saw the Lamma IV sail away after the collision. "I just thought, you know, 'crazy drivers'. I just thought 'they're making a quick U-turn and running from the scene'," he said.

Rebanks said it was difficult to remove the lifejacket from the canvas bag underneath the seat as water flooded into the cabin, reaching to knee-level. He was panicking and didn't know how to put it on. "I didn't even do the string up. I walked out onto the deck with the strings flying around, and they caught on the railing at the front."

Stephen Marsden, 63, who was sitting on the lower deck with his son, said that by the time he worked out how to fasten the lifejacket, the ship had already reached the pier. Wong said she did not know there were life jackets for children until she saw news reports afterwards. She helped her son put on an adult-sized one. The hearing continues today, with passengers of the Lamma II, which helped in the rescue, due to testify.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:25 pm 
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Just noticed today that they have installed the window smashing hammers

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:16 am 
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So passengers don't need to bring their own hammer anymore?

Picture, please?

The seminar recently (Sat morning in the Rural Committee Bldg.) about how to use a life preserver and put on a life vest was very informative as well.
I never realised that it's actually pretty tricky, quite a few non-obvious things to learn, and I was much more worried about safety after the seminar than before it started.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:03 pm 
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That last article "crew faced conflicting demands from passengers" wow things are REALLY DIFFERENT here than in the west. I always thought the captain and crew were in charge during an emergency.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:45 pm 
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SCMP, Dec 28, 2012:

Lamma businesses say lingering fears over ferry crash keeping visitors away

Once the spot for seafood and ocean air, people are steering clear of the island since the tragedy.
Christmas season can be a busy time for the famed restaurants on the island. But since the fatal ferry accident in October, business is down by as much as 30 per cent.


Ada Lee and Johnny Tam - Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am

People looking for a special seafood dinner or a walk along the ocean are giving Lamma a miss these days, boat operators and restaurant managers say.

Christmas season can be a busy time for the famed restaurants on the island. But since the fatal ferry accident in October, business is down by as much as 20 to 30 per cent, owners say.

An employee at Wai Kee Seafood Restaurant in Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma, said it had been "very quiet" after the tragedy.

"I don't know how to estimate how much business we have lost. There's nothing we can do. People have to overcome their fear of getting into a boat and coming here," she said.

Boat companies that carry passengers to the island said people preferred to venture to other seafood hotspots such as Sai Kung and Lei Yue Mun.

The New Year's Eve show on Monday will be the city's first big fireworks display since the accident, in which a public ferry, the Sea Smooth and the Hongkong Electric motor launch Lamma IV collided, killing 39 people.

Police assure the public the 100 pleasure vessels expected around the harbour for the fireworks were well within the area's capacity of 140 boats.

Fat Tat Hong, a travel agency that specialises in boat trips, expects about 20 of its boats to be on the water on Monday night.

The agency's chief executive, Albert Cheung Yau-kwong, said 30 to 40 per cent fewer people were choosing Lamma as a destination so its boats were not stopping there for dinner.

"The tragedy had little [direct] impact on us in general. It's just like traffic accidents. They happen every day but people still go out," he said.

The company raised its booking prices 5 per cent this year. Catamaran Club, a smaller boat rental firm, reported a drop in business of about 20 to 30 per cent since the tragedy.

Last year, it rented out three boats, but this year it has a booking for only one. "Fewer people ask about boat trips," said marketing manager Hermine Kay. "Some business clients said they felt uncomfortable going to Lamma. They wanted to switch to Cheung Chau, but they found it not as well equipped as Lamma."

Large firms, such as Traway Travel and HYFCO Travel Agency, said they raised fares for this year's show, and there were still vacancies on the boats.

Police are bracing for about 100,000 people at the Victoria Harbour waterfront for the show.

Many more Lamma Ferry Disaster stories in the SCMP, almost one per day recently (needs online subscription):
Lamma Ferry Disaster

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:33 am 
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Am I missing something? For two days after the tragedy, Lamma was quiet. However, this also coincided with lots of tourists returning home, and kids back to school.

IMHO Lamma is just as busy with tourists everyday, as it was before October 1st. Not sure if they are spending money, but they are definitely visiting.

In the mornings when I walk my dog, the paths are busy every day. And I have to walk through crowds when I go for an afternoon ferry. Crowds not as crazy as at weekends, but there are a lot more people here everyday, as before.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:11 pm 
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It did seem full up the weekend before Christmas. Sampan and the o e next to them had as many full tables as I have ever seen


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:52 pm 
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Now is "low season" for tourists anyway. Summer brings in the beach bums and spring/autumn is high time for BBQ. Lamma is known as a windy place and in winter it's one of the coldest places in HK.

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