Grave problem for police as crowds throng cemetery
SCMP, April 6, 2001: Grave sweepers in Tseung Kwan O yesterday criticised police crowd arrangements for the Ching Ming festival after they had to queue for up to two hours before being able to walk to their ancestors' graves.
Thousands of people carrying flowers, pork and fruit complained they were stopped at the entrance of the Tseung Kwan O Chinese Permanent Cemetery as crowds jammed the area at 1pm.
They shouted at police, who would only let through sweepers in small groups and segregated people going up and down the hill. At 2 pm, more than 10,000 people were queueing in a line stretching two kilometres from the entrance to the cemetery. One pregnant woman became ill and had to be taken to hospital.
Ho Kin-man, acting commander of the Kwun Tong division, said police had underestimated the numbers, with more than 80,000 turning up by the afternoon, almost double the expected crowd.
Meanwhile, a 31-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man became involved in a fight at the Tsuen Wan Chinese Permanent Cemetery after a jostling incident. They were taken to the police station, where it was decided not to pursue the case.
Another grave sweeper was taken to United Christian Hospital after being bitten by a stray dog in the same cemetery. The dog was caught by police and handed over to Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department staff.
Like last year, volunteers delivered metal bins for burning incense to grave sweepers in remote areas in an attempt to prevent hill fires.
ancestor (n) a person from whom another is directly descended
segregate (v) to set apart from others or from the main group
underestimate (v) to make too low an estimate of
jostle (v) to bump or push (someone) roughly
incense (n) an aromatic substance burnt for its odour, especially in religious ceremonies
Do you think family members had to queue for too long at the cemetery? If so, how could such a problem be avoided?
Does it surprise you how many people turned up at the cemetery?
Edited by Catherine Chisholm