Counselling for tip-search team

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 January, 2009, 12:00am

Officers searching for the missing body of a baby boy were counselled by police psychologists near the end of the five-day search of clinical waste at Tseung Kwan O landfill, which was full of syringes, bacteria samples, animal remains and the attendant bad smells.

The search, which was completed yesterday, failed to find the body of the baby that went missing from the mortuary at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.

'We feel sorry for the baby's parents and the public that we cannot find the body,' said Chief Inspector Chow Siu-tong, who led the search.

Police said the search was finished and would not be extended because of fears for officers' safety and the unlikelihood that the body would be found.

'The chance of finding the baby is very slim because the incident was already three weeks ago,' Chief Inspector Chow said. 'It is really a difficult job, especially seeing loads of cloth that are full of bloodstains and have a very strong smell.'

Protective gear the officers wore blocked the bad odour while they were working.

'Apart from syringes, bottles used in experiments and bacteria samples were other dangerous things that we came across during the search,' Chief Inspector Chow said.

Bags of human body parts and animal remains were also encountered.

It was believed to be the first time police had conducted a search of such hazardous materials. No officer was hurt or fell ill.

The chief inspector said the force was proud to have taken part in the search, which was supported by the Environmental Protection Department. Police sifted through 8 tonnes of clinical waste that came from hospitals on December 20 and 21. Twenty-four officers and 10 support staff took part.

The operation cost HK$70,000.

A police psychologist provided counselling on Thursday.

The baby's body disappeared on January 2 when mortuary staff conducted a routine count of bodies in the hospital. The case was not reported to hospital management until January 5.