AN ARSON attack by abode-seekers at Immigration Tower - which left two immigration officers and four migrants critically injured - was planned the day before, a court heard yesterday. Six of the 19 migrants met on Tuesday and agreed to take paint-thinner with them on Wednesday to Immigration Tower in Wan Chai, where they would demand identity cards, Eastern Court was told. When someone shouted 'pour the thinner', a number of them simultaneously sprinkled the liquid over themselves and immigration officers, it was alleged. Some of them then used lighters to start the ferocious blaze, the court heard. Sixteen defendants appeared in court yesterday, jointly facing one charge of arson with intent and two of wounding with intent. Three other defendants still being treated in hospital were charged in their absence. The charges involve 13 men and six women aged between 17 and 37. Some of the defendants had their arms wrapped in bandages and had facial injuries. They were guarded by at least eight police and prison officers as they appeared in the dock. The court heard the 19 defendants - with four other migrants - were accused of starting a fire that damaged the room and endangered the lives of two immigration officers. Police have not yet laid charges against the four others in the group because they remain seriously injured in hospital, the court heard. Both immigration officers were still in critical condition last night in the intensive-care unit. The defendants were said to have unlawfully and maliciously wounded the two officers with intent to cause them grievous bodily harm. The charges were read out in court and put to each of the 16 defendants present. No pleas were taken. Prosecutor Rebecca Lo Wai-man told the court if the two officers died, more serious charges would be laid against the defendants. She alleged that investigations had revealed that on Tuesday, six defendants and a number of other people held a meeting in which they had discussed taking paint-thinner to the Immigration Tower office the next day. At noon on Wednesday, 23 abode-seekers, including the 19 defendants, went into Immigration Tower demanding to be issued with identity cards, the court heard. Ms Lo said the group was led to a room on the 13th floor and the video camera installed inside was switched on at around 4pm. Immigration officers repeatedly asked the abode-seekers to leave the premises or to put their requests down in writing, but they refused to do so, she alleged. Ms Lo told the court more immigration officers, including the two victims, went into the room to ask the abode-seekers to leave. When the officers tried to remove them from the room at about 6pm, the abode-seekers stood up and some of them unscrewed bottles with liquid inside as someone shouted, 'pour the thinner', the court was told. Some then poured thinner over their bodies while others splashed it around the room and on to some of the immigration officers. The court was told several people were holding lighters. All 44 people in the area, including 21 immigration officers, were injured. Ms Lo applied to adjourn the case pending further police investigations as many of the witnesses were still in hospital. An identification parade needs to be conducted and chemical analysis must be carried out, she said. Lawyers for the defendants applied to the court to grant bail. Solicitor Peter Barnes, representing Sze Kwan-lung, 22, said his defendant, who was uninjured, denied the allegations. Magistrate Eddie Yip Chor-man refused the bail applications and remanded the defendants in custody until Thursday. As of last night, 18 people remained in hospital with injuries sustained in the attack. Those in critical condition included senior immigration officer Leung Kam-kwong, 43; immigration officer Choi To, 38; overstayers Lam Siu-sing, 26; Pang Hon-kwa, 41; Wong Yan-chung; and Chow Siu-ping, 28. Overstayers Yeung Yee-ping, 28, and Chau Hung-chuen, 29, earlier listed in critical condition, have improved to stable, a government spokesman said. Ten other people were in various conditions in six hospitals.