Raid victims in fear of lives

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 1995, 12:00am

PASSENGERS hid jewellery in their pockets and shoes to avoid being robbed as pirates raided the jetfoil Guia yesterday.

Luk Man, 29, said the bandits ordered everyone to remain in their seats and told them to put their hands on their heads.

She said: 'Two armed men suddenly stood up on my left and right. They pointed their pistols at three security guards and other passengers and said they had planted bombs on the ferry.

'At that time, it was very noisy on the upper deck, but then I heard at least two shots. Suddenly everything was quiet. The only sound I could hear was people breathing.' The raiders ordered the pilot to take the jetfoil into Chinese waters instead of going on to Hong Kong.

'At first, I thought they would rob us in our seats. Many passengers sneaked off their finger rings, necklaces and watches and hid them in the pockets on the back of the seats,' said Ms Luk, who was returning to Hong Kong after a business trip to Macau.

'When the robbers were walking around, I secretly grabbed my necklace with a three-carat diamond pendant and put it inside my shoe. But I didn't have a chance to take off my diamond watch and ring.' Despite their worries, none of the passengers lost individual belongings.

A Filipina, Nena Cornelio, was heading for Kai Tak airport from her home in Macau to catch a holiday flight.

Badly shaken and holding back tears, the 21-year-old hospital caretaker said she had feared that more than just her holidays were going to be terminated by the three gunmen.

'They fired a shot. I just clutched the seat for fear of my life,' she said. 'We were about 25 minutes into the trip when we heard shouting and screaming at the front of the boat, and we stopped in the middle of the sea.

'I wondered what was going on, and then two men came running down the aisles pointing handguns.

'They were shouting in Chinese. I had no idea what they were saying, but everybody put their hands on their heads and we just followed suit. They were walking right by us with guns. I was terrified.

'Then the boat started heading towards the mainland, constantly stopping and starting, for more than an hour. They were heading for the land and I really thought they were taking us to China to kill us. I clasped my hands and prayed to God to help us.' Ms Cornelio said the gunmen continually patrolled the boat, checking on passengers.

'I had a pretty good idea from the beginning that it was some kind of robbery as I saw the security guards at the front with what I guessed was money or gold or something,' she said. 'One man was pointing his gun at the heads of the guards, who were only armed with wooden batons.' Ms Cornelio said she became even more frightened when the ferry stopped and two other men, wearing army camouflage, boarded the vessel from outside. But when the five robbers finally leapt from the jetfoil and into a waiting speedboat, a simultaneous roar of delight filled the cabin as the hostages clapped and hugged each other.

'We were so thankful. The whole time we were thinking: 'Just take the money - leave us alone',' she said.

Miss Cornelio missed her flight to Tokyo. Left with the option of returning to Macau or sleeping in the airport overnight, she said: 'This afternoon I thought I would never take a jetfoil again. I guess now I'll have to be brave.'