More lifeguards after shark alert

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 May, 1996, 12:00am

More lifeguards will be on duty to complement an air and sea patrol after a beach patrol boat narrowly escaped a head-on collision with a five-metre shark yesterday.

Bathers have been told not to swim around Sai Kung over the next few days. And divers have been ordered to check shark nets installed on 22 beaches.

The contingency plan was drawn up at an emergency meeting yesterday.

At present, the nets are checked twice a week.

The Deputy Secretary for Recreation and Culture, Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun, said: 'An urgent inspection showed all the nets were in good condition. Three more lifeguards will be on duty at each beach. Marine Police have agreed to step up patrols off Sai Kung beaches.' The working group also agreed to ask Government Flying Services to send helicopters to patrol beaches on weekends and public holidays.

Patrol leader Ng Fu-ming said yesterday's shark passed three metres from their boat.

'It was heading fast in our direction and its fin came up for about two seconds.' But swimmers condemned a new warning system that failed to warn them against entering the water hours after yesterday's shark sighting.

Beachgoers said they could not see warning flags and did not hear loudspeaker announcements from lifeguard posts.

Under the new system, all beaches around Sai Kung raise shark flags and make warning announcements. A red flag is hoisted if a shark is spotted.

The system was put into operation for the first time yesterday after the shark was spotted 250 metres from Trio Beach at about 10.30 am.

One regular swimmer said he was unaware of the new system, which he believed was unnecessary as the beach had shark nets.

'I'm not afraid of any sharks, there is a net.'