Hong Kong marine police pulled two men from the sea on Thursday – one of whom, a banker, died later in hospital – after their five-metre catamaran capsized off Beaufort Island while a strong monsoon signal from the city’s weather service was in effect.
The man who died was a 52-year-old French national who set sail with his 57-year-old friend – a Hongkonger who owned the boat – from Stanley prior to the accident.
“When they were south of the island, the boat was overturned by strong winds,” a police source said. “The younger man was believed to have been entangled by rope and trapped under water.”
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Emergency personnel came after the older man managed to swim to the surface and call police at about 1.45pm, telling them his vessel had overturned off the island, also known as Lo Chau, and that his friend was trapped underneath.
A police source said members of the Fire Services Department, Marine Department and Government Flying Service joined marine officers in helping with a search and rescue operation.
The pair were located just before 2.30pm.
“The man [trapped under the boat] was unconscious while being pulled out of the water,” a police spokeswoman said.
The two men were ferried to Blake Pier in Stanley, then taken to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan. Police confirmed the unconscious man died there just before 4pm.
The source said a preliminary investigation suggested the boat capsized because of strong winds and currents.
“Strong winds with mean speeds exceeding 40km/h are expected from the east. Gusts will occasionally reach gale force,” the Hong Kong Observatory said in an earlier warning.
For the hour ending at 1.30pm, maximum sustained winds recorded at Cheung Chau Beach were 53km/h, with gusts reaching speeds of 66km/h.
“Since the state of the sea is very rough with swells, you are advised to stay away from the shoreline and not engage in water sports. Conditions are particularly rough over the offshore waters,” the Observatory said.
The meteorological service predicted that a tropical depression more than 600km south-southwest of Hong Kong as of 5pm would intensify gradually and begin to take a more northerly track on Friday, moving towards the vicinity of Hainan Island.
“It will be closer to the coast of Guangdong as compared with the previous forecast,” the Observatory said, adding that it would “consider issuing the strong wind signal No 3 to replace the strong monsoon signal early [Friday] morning”.
“Under the combined influence of the northeast monsoon and the tropical depression, it will be windy with heavy rain, squalls and rough seas with swells locally [from Friday] to early Sunday.”
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