High-Speed Ferry Crashes Into Breakwater, Injuring Over 50

A high-speed ferry heading to Macau, China's gambling hub, crashed into a breakwater in the city’s harbor on Friday, injuring nearly 60 people.

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On Friday, several dozens of people were injured when a Macau-bound high-speed ferry hit a breakwater before it entered the gambling city's ferry terminal

A high-speed ferry heading to Macau crashes into a breakwater in Macau's harbor in Macau.

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Shun Tak, which operates the ferry system, said in a statement that the boat was carrying 220 passengers and 13 crew when it hit the breakwater Friday morning while traveling at about 65 kilometers per hour.

The high-speed ferry was making a scheduled trip — one of dozens made by ferry operators each day — to the gambling mecca of Macau from Hong Kong

An injured woman sent to hospital

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The accident took place at around 9:35 a.m. local time, around an hour after the ferry departed from Hong Kong, the company said.

Reports say 57 passengers were injured, including eight Thais, four Koreans and one Japanese, and that one crew member suffered a "waist injury"

An injured woman sent to hospital

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Most of the 57 people sent to a local hospital after the accident were suffering from minor injuries, according to the ferry operator. Among the 233 aboard were eight Thais, four Koreans and one Japanese, and as of 3 p.m. local time, 50 of those at the hospital have already been discharged, it added.

The boat, steered by a captain with 34 years of experience, was traveling at 35 knots, or around 65 kms per hour, in fine weather at the time of the accident

A passenger, who was injured as a high-speed ferry crashed into a breakwater, is escorted by a rescuer after arriving at a port in Macau.

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"A hole was made in the bow of the vessel and the engines could be seen through the hole," a bureau spokeswoman said. "After the crash, the vessel listed to one side, ran aground and slightly took in water."

The impact happened at high tide, she said, and the breakwater might have been submerged. The bureau will investigate the cause of the incident. The vessel will be removed from the scene at high tide today.

Breakwaters are typically made of rock and are used to halt erosion by tides and waves and run mostly parallel to a coastline.

While the company said 57 were injured, Macau's Health Department said 70 people, including nine crew members, were injured

They included 60 Hong Kong residents, four Korean tourists, one Japanese visitor and two Thai travellers. "A 68-year-old [Hong Kong man] suffered a fracture in the cervical vertebra and needed to undergo surgery," it said. The others had minor injuries, mainly bruises and abrasions.

The Hong Kong-Macau ferry route is one of the busiest in the world, with vessels plying the one-hour journey as often as every 10 minutes during the day

Services run around the clock. Other high-speed ferries also operate in Hong Kong's waters, traveling to the city's outlying islands as well as to points on mainland China.

The accident is the third in a year on the ferry route between the coastal Chinese territories of Macau and Hong Kong. The route is one of the world's busiest, with vessels departing around the clock carrying visitors, many from mainland China, to and from the former Portuguese colony's glitzy casinos. The Pearl River Delta, the body of water between the two cities, is also growing increasingly crowded with cargo ships and ferries plying routes to the mainland.

An increase in shipping traffic in recent years has contributed to several accidents in the busy waters off Hong Kong involving high-speed ferries

A TurboJET ferry, like the one that crashed Friday, pictured in Macau, China, on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011.

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In May, more than 30 people were injured when a Macau-bound high-speed ferry collided with a cargo ship in the waters west of downtown Hong Kong.

In November, more than 80 passengers were injured when their Macau-bound jetfoil—also operated by Shun Tak-CTS—collided with an unknown object just west of the city's Victoria Harbour.

In October 2012, a high-speed commuter ferry operating within Hong Kong collided with a boat packed with families on a pleasure trip, sinking the boat and resulting in 39 deaths, in Hong Kong's worst maritime disaster in four decades.

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