Hong Kong ferry captain sentenced to 8 years for deadly 2012 collision

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HONG KONG — A Hong Kong ferry captain was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for the deaths of 39 people in a 2012 accident that was the southern Chinese coastal city's biggest maritime disaster in decades.

A judge handed down the sentence to Lai Sai-ming after his conviction Saturday on charges of manslaughter and endangering the safety of others at sea, according to a Department of Justice spokeswoman.

The captain of the other boat involved in the collision, Chow Chi-wai, was given a nine-month sentence. He was cleared by a jury of manslaughter but convicted of endangering others at sea.

All of those killed, including eight children, and most of the nearly 100 injured were aboard Chow's boat.

The two captains had blamed each other for the Oct. 1, 2012, collision, which came as a shock to the former British colony, renowned for efficient and safe public transport networks.

The verdicts came down after a 60-day trial and four days of deliberations.

Lai's commuter ferry was heading from Hong Kong Island to the outlying island of Lamma when the collision occurred. The smaller boat, owned by the Hong Kong Electric Co., was taking employees of the company on a harbor excursion to watch the Chinese National Day fireworks display.

Fleets of ferries form the backbone of the city's transportation network, running frequently to outlying islands, the Chinese mainland and the gambling enclave of Macau.

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