Hong Kong MTR firebomb suspect dies in hospital from ‘organ failure’
Cheung Kam-fai, 60, had been charged with arson over the February attack on a train at Tsim Sha Tsui station
A man who set fire to a crowded Hong Kong MTR train during the evening rush hour three months ago died in hospital on Sunday morning.
Cheung Kam-fai, 60, had been arrested over the attack on an Admiralty-bound train on the Tsuen Wan Line on February 10 which left 19 people injured, four of them critically.
Cheung was charged with one count of arson with intent, but he never made it to court due to his injuries. The court had been regularly scheduling new dates for a hearing, with the next session originally slated for Monday.
Court documents showed Cheung was a security guard and a resident of Chai Wan.
“[He] passed away at about 5.20am on Sunday at Prince of Wales Hospital,” a government spokesman said.
Several videos of the firebombing incident show Cheung on fire while passengers use their clothes to help him put out the flames. He later falls unconscious on the ground before medics arrive and send him to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei.
He was later transferred in critical condition to a hospital in Sha Tin that features the largest burns unit in Hong Kong.
Police had been waiting for his condition to improve to obtain a statement.
The spokesman would not disclose the cause of death, but “organ failure” was understood to be the reason.
According to police sources, Cheung had tried to hurl a firebomb on a packed MTR train as it was pulling into Tsim Sha Tsui station shortly after 7pm on a Friday evening. Witnesses said he cried out “burn you to death” beforehand. Flames and smoke quickly filled the carriages, prompting a mad rush for exits.
Cheung told police he had started the fire for “personal reasons”, but officers were still investigating whether he had deliberately targeted other passengers or only tried to set himself alight.
The attack sparked concerns about the safety of the city’s railway network, especially after it was revealed that only half of trains in the fleet had surveillance cameras on board. New trains equipped with such systems will be ready next year.
Following the attack the MTR Corporation banned the sale of lighters at convenience stores in its stations.
Additional reporting by Jasmine Siu