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Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar

It doesn’t pay to take risks when storms hit

Hikers rescued on Kowloon Peak jeopardised the safety of 160 firefighters and cost badly needed resources

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 1:07am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 2:23pm

The force of nature can be unforgiving, as seen in the severe storms that hit Macau and the southern United States over the past few days. Yet, there are still people who ignore sound advice and put themselves in situations that jeopardise their own safety and that of others. Thankfully, the 24 hour-long operation to save two hikers stranded by Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar in Hong Kong over the weekend did not result in tragedy. But it is yet another example of how outdoor activities during inclement weather can unnecessarily soak up huge civil defence and rescue resources.

The hikers from the mainland owed more than just gratitude to the 160 firefighters mobilised. They risked their own safety on Sunday rescuing the pair trapped on the treacherous slopes of Kowloon Peak. One fireman fell and injured his leg in the strong wind and heavy rain.

You have to wonder why one would go hiking even when the No 1 signal has been raised. The two hikers reportedly wandered off the trails and became stranded, after one of them fell and injured herself.

It remains unclear whether they were aware that a strong typhoon was approaching, and the weather was apparently still fine when they set off on Saturday. The suggestion that they had taken to the city’s hiking trails before may have made them more confident, but their subsequent ordeal brought them down to earth.

10 hours in the dark on ‘suicide cliff’ in tropical storm with only raincoats for shelter: how two lucky Hong Kong hikers were rescued

Staying indoors whenever possible during severe storms is just common sense. But, as in the past, the two recent typhoons did not deter daredevils from windsurfing or swimming in rough seas. Such reckless behaviour not only risks one’s own safety and that of those who may come to the rescue, but also puts a strain on manpower and resources which could be used elsewhere.

A similar incident in March ended in tragedy when a veteran fireman died during an operation to rescue two hikers during bad weather. It was sheer luck that the latest case did not result in a fatality, but it is nonetheless an example of the cost of people’s insensitive behaviour.

It makes sense to avoid indulging in risky outdoor sports and other activities during unfavourable weather.