Hong Kong ferry captain sentenced to 8 years in prison

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Hong Kong, Feb 16: The captain of one of the boats that collided in Hong Kong in 2012 in what was the territory's worst maritime accident in 40 years and which left 39 people dead and some 100 injured, was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison.

A Hong Kong court found Lai Sai-ming, captain of the Sea Smooth ferry, guilty of manslaughter and putting the security of passengers at risk.

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Chow Chi-wai, the captain of the other vessel, the Lamma IV, was absolved of 39 charges of manslaughter but was sentenced to nine months in prison for putting the security of passengers at risk in the accident.

Thirty-nine people, including eight children, died in the accident while some 100 were injured when the two vessels collided in the Hong Kong port, one of the busiest waterways in the world.

The accident occurred Oct 1, 2012 during China's National Day celebrations.

The Lamma IV was carrying Hong Kong Electric company employees and their families to view a fireworks display when it collided with the ferry traveling in the opposite direction.

According to survivors, the boat sank in 10 minutes, with the prow turned at a 90-degree angle above the surface of the water.

Dozens of people fell into the water while others remained trapped inside the ferry, until the stern disappeared under the water within a few minutes.

The hull of the other vessel was damaged but managed to reach the port without any difficulty.

Given the rapidity of the events that followed, some of the survivors barely had time to put on life-jackets while others had to break glass windows to escape to the surface.

The worst maritime accident in Hong Kong took place in 1971 when a ferry on the Hong Kong-Macao route sank during a storm, leaving 88 people dead.

IANS

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