HONG KONG • At least 100 people were injured when a high-speed ferry travelling from Hong Kong to Macau hit an "unidentified object" in the water, according to the authorities.
The authorities received a call at around 6pm yesterday, warning that the ferry carrying 163 passengers and 11 crew members had lost power after an accident off Siu A Chau, near the larger island of Lantau.
"So far, it is understood around 100 people have been injured," a government spokesman said in a statement sent via e-mail.
Local media group RTHK said that among the 100, six people suffered serious injuries in the accident.
The accident happened when the high-speed ferry hit an "unidentified object" in the water, according to the ferry's operator - Shun Tak China Travel Ship Management.
The vessel was said to have taken in water and lost power after the collision, RTHK said. Local media reported that a large rescue operation was mounted involving air services, marine police and the fire department, before the boat was towed back to Hong Kong island.
An Agence France-Presse reporter on the scene later saw some 20 ambulances waiting near Government Pier as passengers gave statements to the police.
Passengers were quoted in local reports describing chaos as the boat lost power, leaving people stumbling around in the dark, some bleeding and others with injuries to their arms and legs.
"It went dark. A lot of people were injured and many were bleeding," one man with a bandage on his head told Apple Daily.
Photos showed injured people being stretchered off the boat, some wearing oxygen masks, onto a pier in Hong Kong's central financial district to waiting ambulances.
Hong Kong is one of the world's busiest shipping channels. While serious accidents are rare, the waters have become increasingly crowded with leisure boats and vessels that ferry passengers to the nearby gambling hub of Macau.
The safety of Hong Kong's waters was called into question after a fatal 2012 crash in which 39 people were killed when a high-speed ferry collided with a pleasure boat near Lamma Island.
A subsequent inquiry found a "litany of errors" contributed to the accident, the city's worst maritime disaster for over 40 years.
The tragedy shocked the Asian financial hub, one of the world's busiest ports, which had prided itself on its good safety record.
Last June, more than 50 people were injured when a Macau-bound ferry crashed into a seawall off the coast of the gambling enclave.
Two weeks ago, a fire in the engine room of a ferry from Macau forced the evacuation of all 134 passengers, the South China Morning Post reported.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS