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Tuesday
Oct022012

Hong Kong Ferry Boat Accident: Death Toll Rises to 38

ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Hong Kong police have arrested seven crew members in connection with a ferry boat collision that killed 38 passengers, including four children, in the city's deadliest maritime accident in 40 years.

Police Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung said those arrested, including the boat's captain, were under investigation for negligence, and that they did not "exercise the care required of them by law."

He said additional arrests would be made, although he did not elaborate further.

More than 120 employees of the Hong Kong Electric Company were onboard the Lamma IV vessel with their families Monday evening to view a fireworks display celebrating China's National Day, when the vessel collided with another ferry near Lamma Island, off the southwest coast of Hong Kong island. The ferry began to sink shortly after impact, throwing all passengers into the water, according to the Hong Kong Fire Services Department.

Television images showed the bow of the boat pointing straight up, with the vessel partially submerged. Seven boats, including a diving support vessel and hundreds of rescue crews, were dispatched overnight, but low visibility hampered rescue efforts.

Twenty-eight bodies were recovered from the water, and eight other victims were declared dead at nearby hospitals. Two other bodies found onboard raised the death toll to 38 Tuesday night.

The remaining passengers were treated for injuries, but four remain in serious or critical condition, according to a government statement.

The commuter ferry that collided with the Lamma IV, operated by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry company, appeared damaged but managed to return to port safely.

Large-scale accidents are rare in Hong Kong, where the waterways are among the safest not to mention the most tightly regulated.

Monday's boat disaster was Hong Kong's deadliest accident since a high-rise fire in 1996, which killed 41 people.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio