Families of Egypt balloon disaster victims ‘want the truth’
Relatives of victims killed in the hot-air balloon crash in Egypt earlier this year are seeking help from the Security Bureau to call for a coroner's inquest and to push for a full report on the tragedy from Egyptian authorities.
Four family members representing six of nine Hong Kong tourists affected by the tragedy met security chief Lai Tung-kwok for the first time yesterday to push for "close communication on a monthly basis".
"The decision on whether a coroner's inquest should be opened lies with the coroner's court, but the court factors in consultation and evidence from the police," said lawmaker Kwok Wai-keung, who has been helping the victims.
Kwok said the bureau would work with Egyptian authorities and Interpol to obtain a full investigation report on the crash, which killed 19 tourists when their balloon exploded as it flew over Egypt's ancient temple city of Luxor in February.
A bureau spokesman said the bureau had requested a written report on the investigation from Egyptian officials and had been working closely with the Commissioner of China's Foreign Affairs Ministry in Hong Kong, the Chinese embassy in Egypt and the Egyptian consulate in Hong Kong.
The recent political turmoil in Egypt had made this report hard to obtain, the bureau added.
"Police have submitted an interim report on the investigation to the Coroner's Court, and are hoping to publish a final report as soon as possible."
Siu Chi-keung, whose brother died in the crash, said the victims' families had thought the government was not doing much on the issue, but now felt more positive.
"We just want to know the truth," he said. "If too much time passes by, we fear some of the evidence may get lost."
The nine Hongkongers who died - four men and five women aged 33 to 62 - came from three families.
Luxor authorities stopped all hot-air balloon flights after the accident and promised not to resume them until a full investigation was completed. But five of the seven operators were allowed to resume last month.