Eight killed in Hong Kong ferry collision: Official

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A collision between a ferry and another boat killed eight people and injured 45 others off Hong Kong late Monday, an official said.

The accident happened when a boat carrying passengers to see a huge fireworks display in Hong Kong harbour collided with another vessel.

"Up to midnight 53 persons were received by four hospitals and eight were certified dead," a Hospital Authority spokesman told AFP.

The government said around 120 people had been on board the vessels, and so far 101 of them have been rescued. It is unclear how many people are missing.

Search teams rushed to the scene of the accident off Lamma island at around 8:20 pm (1220 GMT), a police spokesman said, as the city celebrated China's National Day with a massive fireworks display.

Survivors were taken by boat to Hong Kong island, where a fleet of ambulances whisked them to several hospitals.

Rescue teams in boats and helicopters spent the night scouring the sea around the site of the accident for signs of survivors, while dive teams entered the sunken boat.

Local television station RTHK reported on its website that children were among the dead.

Hong Kong chief Leung Chun-ying said the government had mobilised all its resources to respond to the accident.

"All our emergency rescue teams are concentrated there... We can see that bit by bit, the people in the water are being rescued," he told reporters at a pier where the injured were being put into ambulances.

Later, after visiting a hospital where a number of those injured had been taken, he said: "Government divers have entered the submerged portion of the boat to rescue survivors, passengers or crew members.

"We will investigate this incident, we must understand the reason for this incident."

A representative from Hong Kong Electric told RTHK news website the power company was ferrying 124 passengers and crew to watch the fireworks in Victoria Harbour when the collision with a regular passenger ferry, operated by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry company, occurred.

Survivors told how the water level inside the boat being used by HK Electric rose quickly before the vessel sank, RTHK reported, leaving only its bow protruding from the water.

Hong Kong Electric's Director of Operations, S.S. Yuen, confirmed the passengers were on their way to watch the fireworks display, telling reporters: "This is a very happy holiday and it turned out to be such a tragic incident."

Lamma island is the third largest island in Hong Kong, with a population of around 5,000 people. It lies approximately three kilometres (two miles) to the south-west of Hong Kong island and is popular with expats, who enjoy its car-less narrow streets and laid-back lifestyle.

Police said the cause of the accident was not yet known.

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