Accidents and personal safety in Hong Kong

Search for missing Hong Kong paraglider enters fourth day as low visibility hampers rescuers

Patrick Chung has been missing since Sunday, but those looking for him promise to remain vigilant despite no longer receiving signals from his mobile phone

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 July, 2018, 9:55pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 11:28am

The search for a missing Hong Kong paraglider continued into its fourth day on Wednesday, even as volunteers reported being hampered by extremely low visibility in the mountains.

Patrick Chung Yuk-wa, 44, remained uncontactable after being blown off course from Sunset Peak, also known as Tai Tung Shan, in Lantau South Country Park on Sunday at 2pm. He had taken off from the spot with a group of 10 paragliders.

According to the Hong Kong Paragliding Association (HKPA), up to 40 volunteers would be deployed on Wednesday to help rescue services personnel locate the paraglider. The volunteer teams would be concentrating on the eastern part of Lantau Island.

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A law enforcement source said on Tuesday that transmission stations were not receiving any signal from Chung’s mobile phone.

“It is possible that the battery on his device ran out of power,” the source said. “As of now, we have no plans to scale down or suspend the search.”

According to the HKPA, Chung’s friends had earlier traced his phone, with the last known location being Lantau Peak. Signals from the device were later received by transmission stations at Shek Kwu Chau and Cheung Chau on Monday afternoon.

The association has been working with emergency services to analyse mobile phone data, radar weather plots and wind data from the Hong Kong Observatory to try to track Chung and identify search areas.

More than 100 rescuers – including police, fire and Civil Aid Service officers as well as 40 volunteer paraglider pilots – have combed several locations on Lantau and extended their search to nearby areas, including Hei Ling Chau on Tuesday.

Another source said rescuers had doubled back to areas they already covered to find Chung and asked villagers living on other outlying islands, such as Cheung Chau, to look out for the missing pilot.

Chung flew with a blue, purple and yellow paraglider and might have used a bright orange reserve parachute, the HKPA said.

The search and rescue operation, conducted over land, sea and air, began on Sunday at about 7.40pm, when Chung could not be reached.

“Both government forces and volunteer teams will not give up and will pursue every clue,” Benson Siu, HKPA’s executive secretary, said.

HKPA chairman Richard Threlfall said they were concerned for Chung’s well-being.

“Our thoughts are with his family but we have certainly not given up hope,” he said.

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Threlfall said the recent heavy rain disrupted the search, which was suspended intermittently on Monday afternoon and midnight on Tuesday.

“The weather has been hampering efforts. [It is] particularly frustrating. This has prevented the [Government Flying Service] from offering helicopter coverage in the higher-altitude areas we have identified,” he said.