First-hand record of a dreadful tragedy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 January, 1993, 12:00am

I ARRIVED at Lan Kwai Fong around 11.45 on Thursday, December 31, with a couple of friends. We'd arranged to meet some people outside D'Aguilar's bar, but soon saw the crowd was far too large for us to get down there by midnight.

We started making our way through the crowd, towards Bit Point. A few minutes before 12, we found ourselves stuck. The crowd had become so large, that nobody could move anywhere. Neither of us gave any thought towards what would soon be happening.

At 12 things started to go crazy. People had been spraying party string and foam before, but now some were throwing beer, bottles and cans into the air.

I pointed out the dangerous consequences that this may have to one guy who was doing this, who said he would ''punch my face in'', and that was that.

I saw some of my friends standing outside D'Aguilar's, and bellowed ''Happy New Year!'' at the top of my voice. They motioned with their hands for my friends and I to go over, so we started making our way through the crowd.

At about 12.05 am, on January 1, we found ourselves stuck in the square where all the streets meet in Lan Kwai Fong. Suddenly, people from behind us started pushing. I heard screams to stop, I didn't have an inch of space in which to move. My elbow was digging into the face of a little Chinese girl, who was crying, no, screaming. I couldn't move it.

What followed I cannot quite remember - simultaneous waves of people being pushed from all directions. Right then, I truly thought ''This is it, I'm going to die''. I felt myself slipping, and almost falling, before my friend grabbed my neck and yanked me back up. I'm not short, 6 feet to be exact, and I weigh 170 pounds, and still I was being forced down. I've never known what it's like to feel such panic, and really feel like you are going to die, but that night I did. I felt myself losing consciousness, and then miraculously, a break appeared in the crowd towards Club 64, where policemen were forming a tunnel to get people out of the crush. My friends grabbed me and pulled me up to Club 64. I sat there in shock for 10 minutes.

When we left, we started walking down to D'Aguilar's, only to find that police had sectioned off the street. ''Oh good, they're not letting crowds back on to the street.'' I couldn't believe how many people were lying there on the street. Some were dead,I saw that clearly. There was such panic and confusion. I looked towards D'Aguilar's where my friends had been, dreading what I might see. I saw a friend lying face down on the pavement, just outside Top Dog, and then I threw up.

The friend I saw was okay, but I lost one of my closest friends that night. I still have trouble accepting he's gone, but I know in time, it will become easier. What happened that night - the confusion, the death, the helplessness - shouldn't have, but nobody is to blame.

I just hope that we can all learn something from it, whether it be crowd control, or increasing law on underage drinking. It must never happen again.