Tragedy's harsh lesson

Tragedy's harsh lesson

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HK Electric's boat lies half-submerged after the accident.
HK Electric's boat lies half-submerged after the accident.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP
"City in tears" was a phrase used to describe Hong Kong after two boats, the Sea Smooth and the Lamma IV, collided off Lamma Island on the night of October 1, killing 38 people, including five children.

Rescue crews did everything they could to save the passengers of the Lamma IV, but the lives of dozens of loved ones, friends and colleagues were lost.

Hongkongers grieved for the victims and their families. Flags flew at half mast on government buildings, and three minutes of silence were observed on the first of three days' of mourning.

I was surfing Facebook when I read about the news of this accident. As far as I could remember, boat collisions seldom happen in Hong Kong. I thought it was just a minor accident and did not pay much attention to the news.

Then by watching the news on TV and reading from the newspaper, I got to know more about this tragedy. Reading the articles and photos upset me. Nevertheless, passengers helped one another and put the lives of others ahead of their own. Their stories of heroism affected me a lot. I also became interested in the stories told by the survivors, which made me feel that I was experiencing the collision with them.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post on October 3, "Blood pouring from a nasty head wound, a quick-thinking engineer pulled his wife and two children out of the sinking Lamma IV and to safety." The engineer was injured, but still did his best to save his family.

A story told by a fireman also touched me. He recalled rescuing a man holding two little girls. They were not his daughters, but he held onto them. Such heroic stories are the "bright light" of this tragedy that has lit up many hearts.

Many of us express our deep condolences to the victims' families. Christians pray for them. Children fold paper cranes to wish for a miracle. Residents express their feelings on the internet. They are united.

An SCMP editorial commented: "Unfortunately, it takes a tragedy like Monday night's to remind us" of the need to be more safety-minded.

It is true that we never realise the danger until a tragedy happens. It is of paramount importance for Hong Kong people learn to be more aware of taking safety precautions. Like most people. I never used to pay attention to the place where life jackets were stored. It is time for us to stop thinking that "safety is something that is always taken for granted".

Sarah was the winner of the Senior Section in Heep Yunn School's SCMP Writing Competition.

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