On October 1, 2012, under the dazzling fireworks, the waters off Lamma Island were in chaos. The Hong Kong Electric Lamma No. 4 carrying 124 passengers was hit by the Hong Kong-Kowloon Ferry Haitai before the fireworks were released. Less than two minutes into the stern, it plunged straight into the seabed, killing 39 passengers, including eight children.
It has been 10 years since the accident. The chief executive has been replaced by Leung Chun-ying, Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, and then Li Jiachao. However, many mysteries remain unsolved in the tragedy that day, and the case has not yet come to an end.
Some family members of the shipwrecks filed a petition with the High Court in June this year, requesting a death inquest, hoping to further uncover the truth.
In the past 10 years, the independent investigation committee appointed by the Chief Executive, the then internal investigation team of the Transport and Housing Bureau, and the police have successively launched investigations into the incident and completed three reports. The ship was different from the plan, and the watertight door disappeared, so that the ship sank at an extreme speed within two minutes after the collision, but no official took legal responsibility for mistakes.
The Department of Justice made it clear last year that no one would be prosecuted for shipwrecks.
"Hong Kong 01" reorganized the data of the past ten years and reviewed the tug-of-war in pursuit of the truth of the Lamma shipwreck.
【Lamma Shipwreck 10th Anniversary Series Part 2】
The 10th Anniversary of the Lamma Disaster Report:
Lamma Shipwreck Ten Years | Survivor Zhao Bingquan seeks the truth for her deceased sister: I am still very sad at this moment
Independent Commission of Inquiry Reveals Multiple Mistakes in MD Supervision
Back in 2012, when the accident happened, the National Day fireworks display turned into a port mourning due to a serious marine traffic accident.
The Hong Kong government flew the flag at half-mast from October 4 to 6, and the whole city mourned the 39 dead.
After the accident, the Hong Kong government immediately announced the establishment of an independent investigation committee led by Judge Lun Minggao to investigate the cause and assess the adequacy of the supervision system.
The committee finally called 113 witnesses to testify in person or in writing, including surviving passengers, crew members and captains involved in the case, search and rescue personnel, officers of the Marine Department, and shipyard staff.
About half a year after the accident, the government released the report of the Independent Investigation Commission on April 30, 2013, revealing that the Lamma No. 4 involved in the crash had successively made mistakes in the design, construction and inspection of the vessel. Inconsistencies, leaking watertight doors, long-term errors in anti-sinking data calculations, no life jackets for children, and unstable seat installation.
The report pointed out that there were serious problems in the supervision system, but Marine Department officials did not find it. Among them, the "disappearing watertight door" in the cabin of Lamma 4 was the key to the rapid sinking of Lamma 4 within two minutes.
Cover of the Independent Commission of Inquiry report
The government has set up an internal investigation team to investigate the lack of Marine Department officials as many as 52 people are under investigation
Before the report was released, the captain of Lamma 4, Zhou Zhiwei, and the captain of Haitai, Li Ximing, were both charged with manslaughter.
In addition, in response to the investigation report revealing the serious mistakes of the Marine Department, in May 2013, the then Secretary for Transport and Housing, Zhang Bingliang, announced that an internal investigation team would be established in June of that year to thoroughly investigate whether the Marine Department officials were missing or not. The investigation involved 52 people. , since November 1994, they have handled the review and approval of Lamma No. 4.
The then Secretary for Transport and Housing, Cheung Bing-leung (file photo)
List of 17 Marine Department officials accused of misconduct not released
The internal investigation report was 430 pages long. The government only released it in summary form and condensed it into 30 pages. It mentioned that 17 officers of the Marine Department had misconducted during their duties in relation to Lamma 4, and it was recommended that formal disciplinary action be taken against the seven persons. , six were warned, and the remaining four were retired.
However, the abstract did not mention the names of the officials involved, the misconduct involved, the results of disciplinary follow-up, etc. The report has not been made public so far, and liability issues such as the "disappearing watertight door" have not yet been revealed.
Police investigation report exposed in 2021, police recommend holding coroner's inquest
The government is reluctant to release the internal investigation report, and the police have another 2,000-page "Lamma Shipwreck Death Investigation Report", which includes the statements of 91 witnesses, and was presented to the coroner in 2015.
The report will not be released until 2021, when requested by the families of the deceased.
Similarly, the report guideline No. 4 plan did not match the actual situation, the watertight door disappeared, and the blame was directed at the manufacturer, Caili Shipyard, and the officials of the Marine Department in charge of approval.
The report stated that due to the seriousness of the case and the significant public interest involved, a coroner's inquest was recommended.
In 2015, the police submitted a more than 2,000-page "Investigation Report on the Death of the Lamma Shipwreck" to the coroner, which contained the statements of 91 witnesses, and concluded that a coroner's inquest should be held.
(File photo / Photo by Yu Junliang)
Two Marine Department officials sentenced to prison on charges not directly related to the shipwreck
Although all three reports have mentioned the issue of the approval of Lamma 4, officials of the Marine Department are duty-bound, but in the past 10 years, no relevant personnel has been held responsible for the inspection of the ship.
In fact, in the whole incident, only four people became prisoners. The two captains of Lamma 4 and Haitai were convicted of endangering the safety of others at sea, and the latter was convicted of manslaughter. The two were arrested in February 2015. Sentenced to nine months and eight years in prison.
According to reports, during the hearing, the captain of the Haitai was judged by experts to be "poor" and should bear great responsibility. Instead of turning right to avoid a collision according to the rules, he turned left instead; the captain of the Lamma No. 4 expressed "ok".
In addition, the then Senior Inspector of Ships of the Marine Department, Wong Kam Ching, was convicted of giving false testimony for lying to the investigation committee and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.
As for the then Assistant Director of Marine So Ping-chi, Lamma No. 4 lacked sufficient life jackets because he instructed his subordinates not to check whether the vessel had enough life jackets according to the new law.
Su was thus convicted of misconduct in a public official and sentenced to 16 months in prison in mid-2016, but he subsequently appealed and although the conviction was upheld, the sentence was upheld and only four and a half months to serve.
Department of Justice says no more prosecutions in 2020
As for the 17 officers of the Marine Department who were reported to have misconduct in the internal government investigation report, and the nine officers who were named in the independent investigation report for mistakes, they did not bear any criminal responsibility. .
Cai Zhiquan and Liu Zhaohui, who were named in the report by the Independent Investigation Commission that day, who made mistakes, have been appointed to the Assistant Director of Marine Affairs today.
Even though the three reports have pointed out the seriousness of the problem and no one has taken legal responsibility for the wrong survey of the ship, by 2020, the Department of Justice has decided not to prosecute anyone. According to reports, the death certificates of the deceased were finally issued in 2021, nine years after the accident.
It is difficult for the family to find new evidence on their own and request a death inquest to be held at the latest by 10.31.
By June this year, the family members of four of the deceased had filed a petition in the High Court, claiming that new evidence had been discovered and asking the court to open a death inquest.
The judge said it would need to look at documents over the years and handed down a verdict on or before October 31.
This tragedy, which spanned ten years and three chief executives, has not yet come to an end. The government's internal report has not yet been made public, and it is still unclear who is responsible for the mistakes in the design and inspection of the plans.
Lamma Shipwreck Ten Years | Survivor Zhao Bingquan seeks the truth for her deceased sister: At this moment I am still very saddened by the Lamma Shipwreck | Refers to the ship design and other information without reviewing the family of the deceased, asking for a cause of death in Lamma Shipwreck | 4 family members of the deceased are dissatisfied with the coroner Rejection of inquest filed in High Court for reconsideration