Hong Kong rail operator MTR denies fatality during protest chaos

Police attempt to arrest protesters at Prince Edward MTR Station, Hong Kong, on Aug 31, 2019.
Police attempt to arrest protesters at Prince Edward MTR Station, Hong Kong, on Aug 31, 2019.PHOTO: AP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG, XINHUA) - Hong Kong's subway operator denied that a fatality occurred on its property when riot police stormed into a station in pursuit of pro-democracy protesters in late August.

MTR Corp., which runs Hong Kong's mass-transit rail system, said in a Tuesday (Sept 10) statement that nobody died inside its Prince Edward station on the night of Aug 31.

"With regards to claims that there was a fatality at Prince Edward Station, there was no death report that day according to the station's record," the company said.

MTR released time-stamped, closed-circuit TV images of emergency services personnel bringing seven injured people out of the station on stretchers starting shortly after 1.30am.

The statement follows widespread speculation among many in the city's months-old protest movement that somebody was killed in the chaos as police aggressively pursued protesters in the crowded station, swinging batons and tackling people to the ground.

Injured people were seen being taken out of the station on stretchers, fueling the rumors.  People subsequently turned the station entrance into a memorial, piling up white flowers and signs with slogans like “black cops” and “blood for blood.” The station became the focus of several days of sometimes rowdy demonstrations.

Hong Kong police on Tuesday strongly condemned the act of spreading malicious rumours about the Aug 31 incident.

At a press conference,  Yu Hoi Kwan, senior superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch, denied online rumors about “death” in the incident.

The Mong Kok police station has not received any report and the police missing persons unit also has not received any report of missing persons in connection with the incident, Yu said, strongly condemning the rumour-spreading act aimed at “dividing society.”

Yu said a total of 53 people were arrested at Prince Edward MTR station on the night of Aug 31, including seven people who needed to be taken to hospitals for treatment.  

In view of the great security threat posed by a large number of radical protesters blocking the roads and shouting near the station, the injured and paramedics were transferred to nearby Lai Chi Kok station on a special train arranged by the MTR, and then sent to two hospitals by ambulances, she said.

Andy Kung, senior manager of the Hospital Authority, said a total of 46 people were injured and sent to hospitals on Aug 31, including 35 men and 11 women. All of them have been discharged from hospitals.