Egypt balloon tragedy

Relatives identify Hong Kong balloon crash victims in Egypt

Six out of nine deceased identified by their relatives without need for DNA testing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 3:19pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 March, 2013, 8:35pm

Six of the nine Hong Kong victims of the Luxor balloon crash have been identified by their relatives, a Hong Kong police officer said in Cairo on Friday.

Tuesday’s balloon crash at near the Egyptian city of Luxor, the country’s ancient capital and a major tourist attraction, killed 19 tourists, nine of whom were from Hong Kong – and members of the Ho, Poon and Siu families.

The six deceased were identified by their relatives, and DNA testing was not used, said chief police inspector Cheung Wai-man, who is part of the 16-member Hong Kong government team sent to Cairo to help the families.

Cheung refused to say to which of the three Hong Kong families the identified remains belonged, saying that this was in accordance with the wishes of the victims’ families.

Still unidentified are the bodies of one man and two women. Cheung said authorities were continuing their work on identifying the three.

On Thursday, the relatives of the victims accompanied by Hong Kong officials visited all four Cairo hospitals where the bodies are located as part of their identification work.

About ten of the victims’ relatives postponed their trip to Luxor to perform some rituals for the deceased because the identification work took longer than expected.

Relatives were also briefed in advance, about the likely psychological impacts of seeing disfigured bodies

Rosalie Kwong Lo Shuk-yee, a Hospital Authority clinical psychologist in Cairo with the Hong Kong government team, said the relatives were generally calm during the identification process.

Authorities tried to make the process less traumatic for the relatives by screening the bodies in advance and covering some parts of the remains.

“The relatives were also briefed in advance, about the likely psychological impacts of seeing disfigured bodies,” she said.

Another Hong Kong team member, Dr Lai Sai-chak, a forensic pathologist with the Department of Health, said some of the bodies were very difficult to identify.

“Some bodies may be beyond identification due to the serious wounds from the force of the crash,” he said.