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Seven crew arrested after Hong Kong boat collision kills 38

Vincent Yu / AP

A half submerged boat is lifted by cranes Tuesday, after Monday night's collision near Lamma Island, off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island.

Police on Tuesday arrested seven crew members from two boats carrying partygoers that collided, killing at least 38 people in one of Hong Kong's deadliest maritime accidents.

Police Commissioner Tsang Wai-hung said six people, including captains from both vessels, were detained on suspicion of endangering passengers by operating the craft unsafely. "We expect further persons to be arrested," Tsang said. Police announced a seventh arrest after his comments.

Tsang said police suspect both crews had not "exercised the care required of them by law," but he did not offer details.

Salvage crews were raising the Lamma IV, which sank after colliding with a ferry Monday as it carried partygoers to a fireworks show celebrating China's national day.

Hong Kong police have arrested six crew members after  a company boat and a ferry carrying more than 120 collided in what is being called Hong Kong's worst maritime disaster in more than 40 years. NBC's Ian Williams reports.  

More than 100 people from the party boat were rescued and sent to hospitals. The ferry was damaged but completed its journey, and some of its passengers were treated for injuries.

The ferry collided with a boat owned by utility company Power Assets Holdings Ltd., which was taking its workers and their families to famed Victoria Harbor to watch a fireworks display in celebration of the national day and mid-autumn festival.

PhotoBlog: Mourning begins as bodies are recovered from ferry crash

Police are interviewing survivors to determine if others were still missing following the accident. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has ordered a full investigation into the crash, the worst maritime accident in the territory's waters in 40 years.

Lueng rejected suggestions that Hong Kong needed to overhaul rules governing its busy sea lanes, the South China Morning Post reported.

"This is definitely an isolated incident. The marine territory of Hong Kong is safe," he said.

Dozens gathered at Kwai Chung Public Mortuary on Tuesday looking for relatives, the Post reported.

There was no immediate word about how Monday night's collision occurred on the tightly regulated waterways of one of Asia's safest places, although it appeared human error was involved. The evening was clear and both vessels should have been illuminated by running lights when they crashed near Lamma Island off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong island.

Vincent Yu / AP

Relatives of the victims throw paper money Tuesday as they pay tribute to the ill-fated people aboard a boat that sank Monday night near Lamma Island, off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island.

Witnesses Sarah Blackman told the BBC she was on board one of the boats involved.

"I was on the top deck of the ferry and felt the impact — it threw people off their seats. The sound the collision made was horrific," she told the BBC.

"Our ferry cut its engines and a crew member checked if passengers had sustained injuries from the impact. Our engines went back on, and a couple of other passengers and I went back to the rear of our ferry to look for the other boat that was now behind us, and that is when we saw it sinking in the water. As far as I'm aware, no lifeboats were on board — just life buoys and life jackets," she added.

Six crew members have been arrested after a boat and a ferry collided in Hong Kong killing at least 37-people as they headed to a holiday fireworks display. TODAY's Natalie Morales reports.

Survivors told local television stations that the power company boat started sinking rapidly after the 8:23 p.m. (8:23 a.m. ET) collision. One woman said she swallowed a lot of water as she swam back to shore.

A man said he had been on board with his children and didn't know where they were. Neither gave their names.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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