A high-speed ferry heading from Hong Kong to Macau hit an unidentified object off an outlying island before dawn on Friday, leaving 85 people injured, authorities and the ferry company said.
The hydrofoil, carrying 105 passengers and 10 crew, struck the object at 1:15am local time on Friday near Sunshine island in waters on the western side of Hong Kong.
“There was suddenly a loud bang. The ferry was thrown upwards. Then many passengers were thrown out from their seats,” one passenger was quoted as saying by Hong Kong’s Apple Daily news website.
Multiple passengers were stretchered into ambulances by emergency services staff, some wrapped in neck braces and breathing through oxygen masks. The walking wounded limped away in bandages after treatment at the scene, said reports.
Three fireboats were scrambled to search the scene, but failed to find any object in the water, fire officials said.
“The object involved might have been broken into pieces and sunk or drifted away,” one fire officer told journalists.
Last year a ferry collision between two vessels claimed 39 lives, Hong Kong’s worst maritime disaster for over 40 years. The tragedy came as a shock to Hong Kong, which prides itself on safety and efficiency.
Hong Kong is the world’s third-busiest container port behind Shanghai and Singapore, according to the World Shipping Council.