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Hong Kong rescue services

Man dies in Hong Kong after fainting on hike

Rescuers called to MacLehose Trail’s stage seven to save 71-year-old, who was later declared dead at Chai Wan hospital

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 April, 2018, 6:56pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 April, 2018, 11:43pm

A Hong Kong hiker died after collapsing in warm weather near the Shing Mun Reservoir at midday on Saturday.

The 71-year-old, surnamed Cheung, was walking along stage seven of the MacLehose Trail with friends when he fainted close to Needle Hill and the reservoir in Sha Tin, hurting his head.

One of the man’s friends called rescuers to the scene and when they arrived they tried to resuscitate him. But he was unconscious when a government helicopter airlifted him to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan.

He was confirmed dead at 1.52pm.

Police were not treating the fatality as suspicious, but officers said they would wait for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death. It was not clear how long the man had walked.

The 100km-long MacLehose Trail is one of the city’s four major hiking routes, along with the Wilson Trail, the Hong Kong Trail and the Lantau Trail.

Hongkongers have been taking more hikes over the past decade or so, and the number of mountain rescues each year has more than doubled from 138 in 2005 to 357 in 2016, according to the fire service.

However, alongside the number of rescues, there have been numerous hiker deaths in recent years, from those in which people fell down steep ridges to photography accidents.

A woman died in November after falling down a steep slope dubbed “suicide cliff” in Ma On Shan Country Park.

And last August, a man and woman from mainland China got stranded on that same cliff in the middle of a raging storm, sparking a large rescue mission.

They had set off after the Hong Kong Observatory issued the tropical cyclone warning signal No 1 – the lowest on the city's alert scale – for Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar. But during the rescue mission, that increased to a No 8 signal warning as the city was blasted with heavy rain and winds of up to 117km/h.

The rescue operation took more than 24 hours, with 160 firefighters, 10 ambulances and 31 fire engines sent to bring the pair to safety.

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By 2pm on Saturday, the average temperature across Hong Kong was 28.3 degrees Celsius. But the largely warm spell would turn bleak, grey and wet from Sunday.

The Observatory forecast cooler temperatures, rain that would be occasionally heavy – particularly on Monday – and thunderstorms.