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Japan

Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai denies he was drink-driving when he crashed in Japan on Christmas Day

  • Comedian says he did not take a breathalyser test after the Hokkaido accident but reports about him drink-driving are untrue
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2018, 11:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2018, 2:23pm

Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai has denied drink-driving in Japan after his car crashed head-on into a van carrying a top policeman from the city.

“The accident happened at noon. I had not had any alcohol,” comedian Tsang, 65, said in a Thursday statement carried by local media.

He did not take a breathalyser test after the crash but reports about him drink-driving were “untrue”, he added.

“I have already given my statement and the Japanese police said I can leave the country anytime. After my holiday, I will return to Taiwan to continue my movie shoot,” Tsang said.

“I am now most worried about the injured senior police officer. I wish him a speedy recovery. That is my biggest wish.”

Tsang was travelling with friend and make-up artist Vanus Li in Hokkaido on Christmas Day when the car he was driving crashed into another vehicle carrying Li Chi-hang, the Hong Kong police force’s director of crime and security, and Li’s family.

All seven people in Li’s car were injured while comedian Tsang was said to be fine after a check-up at hospital.

Li was also sent to hospital before being transferred to another facility by helicopter for surgery on Wednesday. He was said to be conscious but numb in the lower half of his body.

Hong Kong actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai and top police officer in head-on car crash on Japan’s Hokkaido island Christmas Day

A government source on Thursday said Li had regained feeling in his lower limbs after the operation and his condition was improving.

“His hands and legs can now move and he can talk to his family and police welfare officers,” the source said.

But doctors had advised it would still be unsafe to transfer Li back to Hong Kong for treatment, the source added. He believed Li would have to remain in hospital in Japan for a few weeks.

Another source said it would be at least five weeks before he could return home. It was understood the condition of Li’s wife, who required immediate surgery, was also improving. The other five people in the seven-seater car suffered minor injuries.

Li’s family were on a holiday road trip when the accident took place in Otaru, a port city to the northwest of Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo.

It was understood three Hong Kong immigration officers and officers from the police welfare services unit had flown to Japan to help.

Hokkaido quake reveals how unprepared Japan is to help foreigners during disasters

The Japan Meteorological Agency had warned of gales and snow in the northwestern part of the island. Otaru recorded 23cm (nine inches) of snow on Tuesday, with temperatures ranging from minus 3.5 degrees Celsius to a maximum of just 0.2 of a degree above freezing (25.7 to 32.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to official statistics.

Li joined the police force in 1988. He previously served as assistant commissioner and was promoted to his current post earlier this year.

Several Hong Kong tourists have died navigating the mountainous roads of Hokkaido, one of Japan’s most popular holiday destinations.

In 2016 a three-year-old boy was killed when a rental car driven by his father slammed into a lamp post on a highway in Iwamizawa, about an hour’s drive from Sapporo.

There have been 9,680 traffic accidents in Hokkaido this year, injuring 11,191 people and causing 139 fatalities.