James Pomfret -
Hong Kong authorities began inspecting the wreckage of a leisure ship on Wednesday amid questions over how a collision with a commuter ferry in relatively calm weather could have killed 38 people in one of the city's worst accidents in recent decades.
The exact circumstances surrounding the crash remain unclear, but television footage showed the party ship suffered a massive hole in its rear hull, which saw it partially sink, and the ferry a severely damaged bow, suggesting they may have been passing each other in the night.
The director of Hong Kong's Marine Department, Francis Liu, told Hong Kong's Cable Television that the probe could take six months and would look at why one boat sank so quickly and whether or not the boat violated safety specifications.
Authorities have not ruled out prosecuting those found criminally liable for the crash and Hong Kong's new leader Leung Chun-ying said a commission of inquiry would be formed to prevent further accidents in future.
Seven crew members, including the captains of both vessels that were arrested on suspicion of endangering the safety of others at sea, have now been released on bail. Hong Kong is one of the world's busiest ports but maritime accidents are rare.
The tragedy is the worst to hit Hong Kong since 1996 when more than 40 people died in a fire in a commercial building.