Two sea vessels collided off Lamma Island in Hong Kong, killing at least 36 people, the Hong Kong government reported on its website Tuesday. The death toll has risen from initial reports as some deaths were confirmed by hospitals Tuesday.
A ferry owned by the Hong Kong Electric Company was on its way to a viewing spot in Victoria Harbour for a fireworks display when tragedy struck.
One hundred twenty-four passengers -- company staff and family members -- were on board. The company vessel collided with another ferry en route to Lamma Island. The ferry sank minutes after the collision.
The collision took place at about 8.20 p.m. Monday, only about five minutes after the Victoria Harbour-bound ferry started to sail. Rescue efforts were hampered by low visibility.
The Hong Kong government website says at least 28 people have been pronounced dead at the scene. Eight people have died in the different hospitals where victims were rushed to following the tragedy.
The fireworks display was a part of the celebrations marking China's National Day.
The Lamma-bound vessel had managed to continue on its way. It is operated by Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry Holdings Ltd., according to a Now TV report. It carried about 100 passengers, some of them injured from the collision, according to RTHK.
"Our ferry left Lamma Island at 8.15 p.m. to watch the fireworks display out at sea, but within a few minutes, a tugboat smashed into our vessel," Yuen Sui-see, operations director for the company, told reporters.
"Within 10 minutes, the ship had sunk. We had to wait at least 20 minutes before we were rescued," one ferry passenger told reporters in a separate interview.
It is understood the incident is still under investigation. Hong Kong news reports indicate the captain of the sunken ferry is experienced, and both ferries were not overcrowded.
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