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HONG KONG, HongKong [HK]
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Hong Kong ferry crash off Lamma Island kills 36

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36 people died in Hong Kong boat collision, Hong Kong authorities say.

One of the ferries on the line between Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island in Hong Kong crashed Monday, Oct 1st with another boat carrying more than 120 people to a fireworks display at Victoria Harbor. The crash happened at around 20:30 local time, and the boat which sank is owned by Hong Kong Electric, BBC reports.

Lamma island is a popular destination in Hong Kong both for tourists and HK residents. It has an estimated population of 6 thousand, composed of both locals, western and international inhabitants. The island also hosts Hong Kong Electric's Lamma Power Station.

Transport accidents resulting in fatalities are very rare in Hong Kong. It's surrounding waters are home to the busiest shipping routes in the world. In addition to the commercial ships, leisure and fishing boats are common sights, but serious collisions are uncommon.

The collision occurred during a busy period for passenger travel in Hong Kong, at the end of a long holiday weekend to mark the mid-autumn festival that this year coincides with China's National Day on 1 October.

The ferry line - reportedly operated by Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry – has regular boats leaving docks about every half an hour, as a lot of Lamma island's residents live on the island but work in Hong Kong during the day time.

The passenger ferry was slightly damaged in the crash but returned safely to port, according to Radio Television Hong Kong. A number of passengers on board were treated for minor injuries.

Low visibility and the many obstacles on the vessel made it difficult for people to escape the listing ship, says the BBC. One survivor told The South China Morning Post: "After 10 minutes out, a boat crashed into ours from the side at very high speed. The rear... started to sink. I suddenly found myself deep under the sea.

Witnesses said the boat went under very fast.

"Within 10 minutes, the ship had sunk. We had to wait at least 20 minutes before we were rescued," Reuters news agency quoted one man as saying.

Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung promised an investigation into the accident.

"All of Hong Kong's emergency forces are focused here," he said. "Wide-ranging rescue work is being carried out in the sea, on land and in the air."

The crash is reported to have happened really close to shore, close by Lamma Island's Ying Shue Wan docks. Some people in the other boat managed to swim to shore, but others were trapped inside.

Hong Kong is one of the world's busiest shipping channels, but its ferries have a good safety record.

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