Families of victims of Egypt balloon disaster renew call for inquiry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 5:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 January, 2014, 5:14am

Families of the nine Hongkongers who died in last February's hot-air balloon tragedy in Egypt are frustrated and angry that the government has yet to push for a coroner's inquiry.

This week relatives plan to deliver their third written request for a hearing to the city's Coroner's Court.

Beyond acknowledging receipt of their letters, there has been no response to the previous requests which date back to last April and June.

"We want an investigation into the reasons why they died, but we still have not got a response from the Coroner's Court," said Siu Chi-keung, 39. He lost his younger brother, Siu Chi-man, and sister-in-law, Eleni Kwan Pui-man - both 37 - when the early-morning sightseeing trip turned to tragedy in the ancient temple city of Luxor on February 26.

"We feel so helpless; the government is not helping us and fufilling its responsibilities," he said.

A Security Bureau spokesman last night said that the coroner has asked the police to conduct a death investigation so that it can make a decision on a possible inquiry.

Police have provided interim reports to the coroner and will submit the final report as soon as possible, he added.

The spokesman also said that the government has repeatedly asked that Hong Kong police be part of the investigation in Egypt but authorities in Cairo "have not been able to confirm the arrangement to date".

The Sky Cruise hot-air balloon caught fire and exploded just moments from landing, with the blast shooting it hundreds of metres up into the sky before the balloon collapsed sending the wicker cradle plummeting back to the earth, killing 19 of 21 passengers.

Last week, Egypt's Ministry of Civil Aviation released a report on the accident and found that a faulty gas tube had caused a leak which sparked the fire.

It omitted any reference to human error in line with international aviation guidelines that state investigations are to provide answers on how to prevent future accidents and are not to apportion blame.




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