Emergency services are searching the waters around an island south of Hong Kong after a boat packed with revellers collided with another ferry in darkness on Monday night.
At least 36 bodies have been recovered. More than 100 have been rescued with nine said to be in a critical condition.
The ferry owned by the Hongkong Electric Company was taking staff and family members to watch a fireworks display at the city’s Victoria Harbour to celebrate China’s National Day.
The vessel then collided with a boat operated by the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry company close to Lamma island.
The Kowloon ferry suffered slight damage and continued safely to port. The other capsized.
Authorities say low visibility and obstacles on the boat were hampering operations, but they claim survivors may still be on board.
Those on the vessel said it started sinking immediately after the impact.
Relatives started to gather at the city’s mortuary looking for information about missing loved ones.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels although marine accidents are rare.
It is unclear why or how the two boats collided, but Chinese officials say an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway.
What started as day of celebration ended in tragedy and government flags flew at half mast as a mark of respect.