Elderly people injured during free-rice handout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 August, 2005, 12:00am

Updated at 5.43pm:
Several elderly people were injured during a free rice handout at a Kowloon City football field, local media reported on Tuesday.

More than 3,000 elderly people had gathered outside the football pitch on Argyle Street, waiting to be given the rice ? which is part of Yu Lan or the ?Hungry Ghost Festival?.

But after the organisers opened the gates to the pitch at 6am, many people began jostling one another. Some were pushed over, trampled on and injured, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Four people, aged between 72 and 83, were taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Another woman also suffered minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment.

A lot of umbrellas, shoes, lunchboxes and mobile phones were scattered on the ground, the newspaper reported on its website.

Police officers attempted to maintain order. They had also closed a section of the slow lane of Ma Tau Chung Road after some attendants ran onto the road.

The organiser had planned to distribute 6,000 bags of rice and other basic commodities during the event.

Yu Lan is traditionally celebrated with Chinese opera performances, burnt offerings and prayers in remembrance of ancestors. Rice is commonly handed out during the festival in summer as a mark of respect for the poor.