The demise of the SS Sai On, Hong Kong February 1947

HF: I have been unable to find an image of the SS Sai On either before or after the fire detailed below, and would be very grateful if someone could send me one.

The image below was sent by IDJ and shows the resurrected Sai On in its new guise as the Tak Shing.

SS Tak Shing

Courtesy: Phil Kenny

A few decades later, Hong Kong saw its most serious shipboard fire incident in the 20th century. In the evening of 4 February 1947, the steamer Sai On was berthed alongside the wharf near Connaught Road Central for her regular voyage to Guangzhou the following morning. As many as 300 passengers boarded the vessel to take advantage of the free overnight accommodation. At about 5 a.m. the following day, the vessel suddenly caught fire. The vessel soon turned into an inferno in which most of the passengers were burnt to death. It was estimated that around 300 passengers perished in the incident, with only a dozen or so being rescued from the burning ship and the harbour. (1)


  1. Marine Department Hong Kong

This article was first posted on 8th October 2023.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. British river steamer Sai On’s burnt out hulk reconversion at Cheoy Lee Shipyard newspaper article
  2. SS Tak Shing – reconditioned SS Sai On at Cheoy Lee Shipyard

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