Hong Kong ferry crash raises fresh safety questions

HONG KONG (AFP) - Thirty-nine people have been injured in a crash between a passenger ferry and a barge in Hong Kong, raising fresh questions about maritime safety in one of the world's busiest harbours.

The latest incident comes after 39 people died in October when a pleasure boat partially sank, the city's worst maritime disaster in 40 years.

Three people remained in hospital on Saturday with serious injuries after Friday's crash, a government spokesman said.

The ferry made it to its destination, the island of Cheung Chau, where television footage showed paramedics carrying a passenger wearing a neck brace off the boat on a stretcher.

Damage to the front of the catamaran ferry could be seen, with passengers wearing bright orange lifejackets.

"I was scared, I was worried once the collision occurred and immediately looked for the lifejacket, and I was worried about the boat sinking or water entering," a shaken female passenger told Hong Kong's Cable TV news.

Investigators have pored over last year's crash, trying to piece together how such an accident could have happened in a city which prides itself on its state-of-the-art transportation infrastructure.

The examination looked at the boat's structural soundness, why it began sinking so quickly, whether there was adequate safety equipment on board and whether the captain followed the rules of the sea.

The report into the October collision, which happened near Lamma Island is due later this month.

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