Legco praise for New Year lifesavers

POLICE and medical staff have been praised for their efforts in saving the lives of people injured in the Lan Kwai Fong tragedy.

Dr Leong Che-hung, medical representative on the Legislative Council, commended emergency staff amid queries from members of Legco's Security Panel on police deployment and their handling of the situation during the early hours of New Year's Day.

Twenty people were trampled to death after they slipped and fell under a crowd of New Year revellers in the trendy Central bar area. A 17-year-old boy has since died from his injuries.

Dr Leong told the panel that having seen on television the efforts of police and ambulancemen to save victims, it would be unfair to make critical comments.

''I really feel the police force and the ambulancemen were doing their best as far as life-saving was concerned,'' he said.

''As far as police efforts in the hospitals in relation to looking after the victims and soothing their relatives, I was at the Queen Mary and their activities were commendable.'' Meeting Point legislator also praised off-duty medical staff at the Queen Mary and Tang Shiu Kin hospitals for returning to work to help.

But other panel members continued to quiz police officers on their deployment for the New Year celebrations, and asked if they had taken heed of warnings by the Central and Western District Board after scuffles marred Halloween celebrations in Lan Kwai Fong.

Central District Commander Chief Superintendent Justin Cunningham said police had taken note of the suggestions and had deployed 146 officers in Lan Kwai Fong on New Year's Eve, compared with 70 at Halloween.

Concerning the suggestion of designating an entrance and exit for Lan Kwai Fong, he said he did not know if police were legally allowed to do that. This was something for the independent inquiry to look into.

Independent legislator Mr Chim Pui-chung suggested red lights could be put up at the entrances of Lan Kwai Fong and be used to warn people of overcrowding. If they then went into the area, they would be doing so at their own risk, he said.

The District Commander added that the red light suggestion would be for Mr Justice Bokhary to consider in his inquiry.