Hong Kong court rejects calls for coroner’s inquest into ferry tragedy

Lamma IV in 2010 (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Ivan Ck Chan)
Lamma IV in 2010 (Photo: MarineTraffic.com/Ivan Ck Chan)

A judge of the High Court of Hong Kong has rejected calls for a coroner's inquest into a highly-publicised maritime incident in 2012 wherein two passenger ferries collided, resulting in the deaths of 39 people on one of the vessels.

Court of First Instance judge Russell Coleman rejected the request on Thursday, November 24, after deliberating that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a deeper probe into the October 1, 2012 collision incident involving the ferries Lamma IV (pictured) and Sea Smooth.

The collision on the said date caused Lamma IV to sink shortly afterwards. Thirty of the ferry's occupants were pronounced dead at the scene while eight others were later declared dead on arrival in hospital and another individual died four days later while undergoing treatment.

A group of lawyers representing the families of four of the victims had earlier told the High Court that additional police investigations have yielded new evidence warranting the inquest.

However, Mr Coleman ruled against the inquest, stating that a Commission of Inquiry (COI) report issued in 2013 had already identified the incident's "immediate cause" as well as the "structural causes rooted in the design and equipment on board the vessel."

Chiu Ping-chuen, a survivor of the sinking, said he was "disappointed" by the ruling and that a deeper investigation would have yielded more evidence that needed to be revealed to the public.

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