Li Ka-shing visited a hospital Tuesday and told reporters he felt ‘‘very sorry.’’
‘‘I don’t want to say too much. I just know that many people have passed away,’’ he said in comments broadcast on Cable TV Hong Kong.
Social media sites lit up with discussion of the tragedy and condolences for the victims and their families.
Lamma is the third-biggest island in Hong Kong and near one of the coastal Chinese city’s busiest shipping lanes. The island is home to about 6,000 people, including many of the former British colony’s expatriate workers.
The tragedy is a test for Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s new Beijing-installed administration. His July inauguration was greeted by protests, and opposition by students and their parents against the proposed teaching of China-influenced patriotic history forced his government to back off the plan last month.
After the collision, Leung rushed to the pier where rescue work was taking place. He said he would set up a commission to investigate the crash.
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