A cry of 'Help', the race to save two swimmers won, then a newlywed's shriek of despair

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 August, 2008, 12:00am

Apart from the unusually big waves, it could almost have been a normal summer day at Big Wave Bay.

Encouraged by a sudden drop in wind speed as the eye of the storm passed across the city, swimmers had taken to the sea, with surfers and bodysurfers also playing the waves.

Suddenly, cries of 'Help, save them!' rang out across the popular Hong Kong Island beach. Two swimmers could be seen clutching the shark net and perilously close to the rocks.

Swimmers and bystanders grabbed the net and hauled it close to the beach so the struggling pair could pull themselves in.

But as the two young university students caught their breath they told their rescuers to call the police, as another swimmer not known to them had been swept away. Moments later, the missing swimmer's wife shrieked in despair as she realised her new husband had not returned.

'The man was wearing goggles, and I could see he was really struggling. He went under some big waves a couple of times, and then all of a sudden, within minutes he was swept across the length of the beach around to the other side,' said Ricky Sum Ka-lun, who was watching from an observation tower on the edge of the beach and was the first to raise the alarm.

One of the pair rescued, Michael Yuen Chi-lam, 21, said he had never intended to swim but was just playing in the water when he was swept out.

'I always knew there was one other guy with us. He was swept out, but I could not save him. I could hardly save myself,' he said.