A memorial was held on Sunday to mourn the victims of the Lamma ferry tragedy, which took place five years ago.

The accident on October 1, 2012 killed 39 people when a passenger ferry and a Hongkong Electric Company-owned vessel collided off Yung Shue Wan. The Hongkong Electric vessel was carrying staff members to watch the national day fireworks show that year.

Lamma Island ferry collision
Photo: Fung Ka-keung.

On Sunday, around 30 people attended Central Pier no.4 to mourn the dead at 8:23pm, the time when the accident occurred.

‘Shocking event’

Fung Ka-keung, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, attended the ceremony and said he remembered the accident clearly.

Lamma Island ferry collision
The Lamma Island ferry collision. File

“It was very sad – I live in Sai Wan, I could hear – at the time – the sirens of ambulances coming through as they tried to send the injured to different hospitals. It was a shocking event,” Fung told HKFP.

Those who attended the ceremony queued up to pay their respects in Chinese tradition. Fung said there were Lamma residents who remembered the incident and came to mourn.

Lamma Island ferry collision
Photo: Fung Ka-keung.

During the ceremony, the national day fireworks show took place over the Victoria Harbour.

The 2013 fireworks show was cancelled out of respect for the dead, whilst the 2014 show was cancelled owing to the pro-democracy Occupy protests which had blocked major roads around the city.

Lamma Island ferry collision
Photo: Fung Ka-keung.

An investigation concluded that there were an insufficient number of life jackets on board the Lamma IV.

So Ping-chi, a Marine Department senior official who ordered staff members to ignore a law on the number of life jackets vessels must carry, was sentenced to jail for 16 months for misconduct in public office. He was allowed bailed awaiting appeal.

煙花期間,悼念南丫海難五周年Mourning the victims of the Lamma Island ferry tragedy happened five years ago.—蘋果日報:【煙花為誰燒】邊默哀邊放煙花 市民悼南丫海難:試過喊出嚟 http://s.nextmedia.com/realtime/a.php?i=20171002&s=6996647&a=57279732香港01:【南丫海難五周年】肇禍一刻默哀 發起人:悼念比煙花重要 https://www.hk01.com/article/122954明報:南丫海難五周年 市民自發悼念死者 籲政府全面公開調查報告http://news.mingpao.com/ins/instantnews/web_tc/article/20171001/s00001/1506865978242東方日報:30人悼南丫海難死者 倡取消煙花免傷口灑鹽http://hk.on.cc/hk/bkn/cnt/news/20171001/bkn-20171001204639324-1001_00822_001.htmlHKFP: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/10/02/pictures-mourners-remember-victims-lamma-ferry-tragedy-five-years/

Posted by Fung Ka Keung on Sunday, 1 October 2017

Lai Sai-ming, the captain of Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry’s Sea Smooth, was jailed for eight years for manslaughter and for endangering the safety of others at sea.

Chow Chi-wai, the captain of Hongkong Electric’s Lamma IV, was acquitted of manslaughter but found guilty of endangering the safety of others at sea. He was sentenced to nine months behind bars.

Francis Liu, the Marine Department chief at the time of the accident, was not charged. He retired in 2014.

Former Marine Department chief Francis Liu
Former Marine Department chief Francis Liu apologising over the Lamma ferry collision in May 2013, 239 days after the accident. File

When asked if the government would release its internal report over the accident, transport minister Frank Chan said on Sunday that – since a criminal investigation into the accident was still ongoing – it was not appropriate to comment.

Only 41 pages of the 430-page report have been made public.

“If the family members of the victims of the Lamma ferry tragedy wish to sit down and talk to me, I am willing to do so. I understand it was a traumatic experience, I hope they can get over [the pain],” Chan said.

In response, Fung said: “Five years on and the criminal investigation has yet to finish – this is simply too slow.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.