'Help, help, help' were missing policeman's last words

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2005, 12:00am

Fears grow for constable lost in country park for three days

'Help! help! help!' were the last words a constable missing in Sai Kung Country Park said on Sunday before his mobile phone dropped out, according to police.

More than 350 rescuers scoured the park for a third day yesterday for Ting Li-wah, 45. A Government Flying Service helicopter, Marine Police launches and two police tracker dogs were also sent out.

Constable Ting, who is single and liked to hike alone photographing the landscape, called the 999 emergency number on Sunday and had a seven-minute conversation with staff. Police believe he was not attacked at the time of the call, but had possibly seen other hikers and was yelling to draw their attention.

They fear he may be lying unconscious somewhere in the 7,477-hectare Sai Kung Country Park.

'His voice showed that he was in a semi-conscious state. He seemed to be very exhausted or suffering from heatstroke when he talked with our officers at the 999 control centre with his mobile phone on Sunday,' a police officer said yesterday.

'He was unable to answer most of the questions and his response was very slow. He could reveal he was alone and he started his journey at Pak Tam Chung about two hours earlier, but he failed to reveal his name in the seven-minute telephone conversation.'

Police discovered his identity after checking with the mobile phone company and calling at his home in Chi Fu Fa Yuen, Pokfulam Road, where he lives alone.

Rescuers said they were concentrating the search on the north of the park as rescuers were told that the mobile phone call was made through a mobile phone repeater at Tai Tan near Wong Shek.

'Our search focused on the area in the several kilometres radius of Tai Tan. Rescue workers will search official and unofficial trails and paths in the country park,' a police officer said.

But one rescuer said the chances of finding the man safe were slim after he had been missing for more than 48 hours, though all rescuers were hoping for the best.

Whether someone could survive without food and water for several days would depend on the person's condition and the environmental conditions, said Lo Wing-lok, a former legislator and currently chairman of People's Health Action.

'If a person gets lost in the wilderness and stayed immobile and gets himself minimal shelter without wasting energy or losing or gaining heat excessively, that person may survive several days even without food and water,' Dr Lo said.

Extreme weather conditions would make the chance of survival unlikely, however.

Dr Lo said it was not advisable to go hiking alone.

'Even if a person is physically very fit or experienced with the trails, there are bound to be unpredictable circumstances.'

Footage of surveillance cameras showed that the constable was wearing a backpack, blue short-sleeved T-shirt, beige trousers and brown sports shoes when he left his home on Sunday. He is bald, of dark complexion, about 1.7 metres tall and weighs 60kg.