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Hong Kong Ferry Accident: The Insanity That Is Hong Kong Marine Traffic

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HONG KONG HARBOR
chris c anderson

The Hong Kong ferry accident involving a ferry colliding with the Hong Kong Electric Co. chartered ship Lamma IV has resulted in the deaths of 38 people, the worst maritime accident in over 40 years.

That an accident of this severity has only struck once in over 40 years in one of the world's busiest ports says something for the usually high standards of maritime traffic coordination.

Just how busy does the Port of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbor get? In 2010 I shot a timelapse video from the Hong Kong Ritz Carlton, the highest hotel in the world.


The sped up, bird's eye view of the incredibly hectic marine traffic gives an idea of just how busy Victoria Harbor gets. Ferries, junks (private recreation boats), massive shipping haulers, air craft carriers, you name it, it comes through Hong Kong.

Where the Hong Kong ferry crash occurred was actually closer to Lamma Island than Victoria Harbor, in the West Lamma Channel.

Ferries are a part of Hong Kong life through and through. Before the subway, the only way to get from Hong Kong main island to Kowloon was by boat. The only way to get to Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau or any of the other numerous small islands is by ferry or boat.

Hong Kongers use the ferry from Lamma, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau daily to get to and from work, school, shopping, vacationing, etc. Tourists from around the world have been riding the Hong Kong water for decades.

The Hong Kong Electric Co. Lamma IV was making what is an extremely routine journey through busy Hong Kong waters. That such an accident should end in such a terrible way will make tourists question taking to the waters in Hong Kong, but not Hong Kongers.

As terrible as this tragedy is, these things happen, and we can only hope that as a result safety will improve.

For those coming to and from the islands, they don't have a choice but to take a ferry. It's grab a ferry or stay on the island. That is why the ferries were still operating even after the crash, and why they will continue to operate. For those that have any fears of traveling by sea in Hong Kong, right now will probably be the safest it's ever been as every captain and boat driver is going to be extra cautious and there will be investigations into what happened, hopefully resulting in modified safety procedures.

I'm heading to Hong Kong in November, and I personally can't wait to head out to Cheung Chau for a long weekend. I'll be getting there by ferry.

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