HONG KONG - Two hydrofoils ferrying passengers between the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau collided Friday night in heavy fog, seriously injuring 19 people, a Macau government spokesman said.
The poor visibility was also blamed for a number of other maritime accidents in the region. Parts of China's southern coast were enveloped in fog due to a warm, humid maritime air stream.
Thick fog blanketed China's commercial centre, Shanghai, where an unlicensed river ferry carrying 22 people capsized Friday, leaving 10 missing, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported. The ferry, one of many that operate in the area without proper safety equipment or certification, sank near the city's Wusong pier shortly after the accident, Xinhua said.
The 10 men and nine women passengers hurt in the ferry collision suffered mainly head injuries and bone fractures that were not life-threatening, said Alex Che, a spokesman for the government of Macau. Another 114 passengers suffered lighter injuries, Che said.
"All the glass shattered and the front of the ship fell off," a male passenger, identified only by the surname Chan, told Hong Kong's Cable TV.
Wong Soi Man, director of Macau's Maritime Administration, said the accident's cause had not yet been determined, but "heavy fog must be one of the key factors."
The accident occurred closer to Macau and the injured were being treated there, he said.
In another incident, 66 people were rescued from a ferry that ran aground near the coastal city of Zhuhai near Macau, Xinhua said.
Hours earlier, another high-speed ferry travelling west from Hong Kong to Macau and carrying more than 370 passengers hit a small fishing vessel, said Hong Kong Marine Department spokeswoman Daisy Lo.
No one was injured and both vessels continued their journeys.
Ferry operator Turbojet scaled back its services to Macau to once every half hour - from its usual peak frequency of every five minutes - and said travel time would take half an hour more than the usual one-hour journey.
The foggy weather slowed traffic on a key route that transports gamblers to booming casino enclave Macau, which surpassed the Las Vegas Strip in gaming revenue in 2006.