Two injured survivors sue over Pat Sin Leng fire

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2006, 12:00am

Two survivors who were severely injured in the Pat Sin Leng fire 10 years ago are suing their school and the government for compensation.

Both claimants were 13 at the time of the hill fire, which killed three students and two teachers from a Ma On Shan school.

Lee Chun-man and Dennis Chan Kong, formerly known as Dennis Chiu Kong, are suing HKCWC Fung Yiu King Memorial Secondary School and the Secretary for Justice, who is acting on behalf of the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower, for an unknown amount.

In the High Court writs filed by the Director of Legal Aid yesterday, Mr Lee and Mr Chan allege their injuries were the result of the negligence of the defendants, their servants or agents.

Mr Lee, who lives in Hin King Estate, Sha Tin, had multiple operations on his bones, face and brain after suffering two broken legs and a blood clot in his brain when he fell from a government helicopter during his rescue.

Mr Chan suffered burns to his back, arms and legs in the ordeal on February 10, 1996, when most of the 54 hikers were at the steepest part of a 511-metre hill stranded between heavy brush and a rock face.

Ching Yue-chor, the school's current headmaster, said the Department of Justice was taking care of the legal issues for the school.

'All I can say is that they [Mr Lee and Mr Chan] have the right to fight for the compensation they believe they are eligible for and I respect their decision as they ought to have their own reasons for engaging in this action,' he said.

Mr Ching insisted the school had maintained good relations with the blaze survivors through the years.

He said one of them recently donated $2,000 to help fund the development of an information technology project at the school, which has just celebrated its 15th anniversary.

The Education and Manpower Bureau said that since the matter has entered judicial procedures, it would not make any comments.

A coroner's inquest in June 1996 found the cause of the fire was either cigarettes or lighters because some pupils had been seen smoking and ruled that the deaths were accidental.

The coroner, John Saunders, also concluded that a lack of clear commands and poor communication between rescue units had hindered attempts to save the school party.