Three people die amid cold snap

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 12:00am

Three elderly people died during yesterday's cold weather - when the mercury plummeted to as low as eight degrees Celsius in the New Territories.

A cold-weather warning was still in force last night and the Department of Health has issued a warning - especially for the elderly - on how to safeguard their health.

Assistant Director of Health Chan Wai-man said cold weather could trigger illnesses, especially among the elderly and people suffering from heart, respiratory or chronic conditions.

A woman, 78, died yesterday after being found by her son lying unconscious in bed in her Chai Wan apartment at 9am. Police said the woman suffered hypertension.

About half an hour later, a 72-year-old man suffering from asthma was pronounced dead in his First Street unit in Western.

The third death was another asthma patient, 75. There were no suspicious circumstances in the three cases, but there was no confirmation that their deaths were linked to the cold weather.

The Observatory said the city was on course for its coldest Lunar New Year since 1996, with the mercury expected to drop to about 10 degrees in urban areas on Thursday and two to three degrees lower in the New Territories.

Olivia Lee Shuk-ming, acting senior scientific officer of the Observatory, said the cold weather was brought about by a winter monsoon over southern China.

'Showers and overcast [conditions] will give way to sunshine on the eve of Lunar New Year, but the temperature will stay cold at about 10 degrees Celsius,' she said.

'This will be quite a big difference from this time last year, when the temperature was as high as 18 degrees.'

Temperatures yesterday fell to a low of eight degrees in Ta Kwu Ling, nine degrees in outlying areas such as Tuen Mun, Tai Po and Lau Fau Shan and 10 degrees in urban areas.