Hong Kong weather

Another tragedy we must all learn from

The second death in 15 months at Ma On Shan Country Park underlines the importance of not only thinking about one’s life but also the lives of others

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 5:13am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 2:53pm

One of the things that sets Hong Kong apart is its network of country park trails that offer a refreshing change from the predictability of our urban comfort zones. But, like all gifts of the natural environment, trail walks come with risks, some not readily apparent but nonetheless dangerous.

We are reminded of this by a fatal lightning strike on the MacLehose Trail in Ma On Shan Country Park on Monday.

The victim, Ian Lo Go-yin, 18, recently completed his final year at South Island School in Aberdeen. A seemingly unexceptional recreational outing with young companions turned into tragedy.

Our first thoughts and deepest condolences go to his family and friends. Many people must wonder whether, but for a sense of caution or just luck, it could have been them on another occasion.

Lo was among six who set off on a hike at about 10am, less than an hour before the Hong Kong Observatory issued a thunderstorm warning followed by an amber rainstorm warning, denoting rainfall of up to 30mm an hour.

Student, 18, dies after being struck by lightning while hiking in Hong Kong

A female member of the group, also aged 18, called police at about 12.45pm to report the lightning strike. Lo was taken to hospital by a Government Flying Service helicopter with a doctor and nurses, but was later declared dead.

It risks being seen as wise after the event to ask whether the group monitored Observatory warnings, which included advice not to stand on high ground or near conductive objects, such as trees or masts, and heeded it.

Lessons from such experiences, however painful, can save lives. It is only 15 months ago that the same country park claimed the life of a veteran firefighter who fell down a steep slope while rescuing two hikers who strayed off the trail during bad weather and became stranded in a treacherous part of the park.

Injured female hiker rescued after spending 12 hours trapped on Hong Kong hillside

The tragedy may have been avoided had the two hikers given more thought to the potential danger before setting off or veering off the trail. That it takes the loss of precious lives to tell a cautionary tale more than once is sorrowful.

Those who go ahead with water sports during typhoons or trail walk in treacherous weather need to think twice. Their behaviour is not just jeopardising their own lives, but often also the safety of those who may need to come to their rescue.