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HK to lower flag at half-mast to mourn victims of abduction tragedy

08-24-2010 08:47 BJT Special Report:Tourists Held Hostage in Manila |

HONG KONG, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said Monday night that the city would lower the flag of this Special Administrative Region at half-mast on Tuesday to mourn Hong Kong tourists killed in the abduction tragedy in the Philippines.

The hostage crisis ended on Monday night with eight hostages were killed, seven injured, one of whom is in critical conditions, Philippine government officials said.

A 21-member Hong Kong tour group aboard a bus was hijacked by a dismissed Filipino policeman earlier in the day.

Tsang told reporters that another eight Hong Kong tourists were injured in the incident, with two in serious conditions.

Tsang said senior officials of the Hong Kong government should call off all unnecessary activities to mourn the dead.

Tsang said he was extremely sad and disappointed over the tragedy and the losses of lives of Hong Kong residents and felt very angry over the "cold-blooded" deeds of the thug.

"It's a major tragedy, disappointing that Hong Kong residents trying to make a pleasure trip to Manila ended up with death and casualties. This is very tragic," he said.

He extended deep condolences to the families of those killed and injured in the incident, saying his government would provide everything needed to assist hostage families to overcome current difficulties.

Tsang said his government was arranging two chartered flights to Manila -- one on Monday night and the other on Tuesday morning - - to carry family members of the Hong Kong tour group to Manila.

Some 11 families members were expected to take Monday night's flight while others would go to Manila on Tuesday morning, said Tsang.

They would be accompanied by officials from the Security Bureau, Department of Immigration, and representatives of Hong Thai travel agency as well as medics and psychologists.

According to him, Hong Kong has issued the Black Outbound Travel Alert for the Philippines. The black alert is the highest level of Hong Kong's three-sign Outbound Travel Alert system, indicating a "severe threat" exists and all travel to the destination should be avoided.

The Hong Kong government said it has asked the city's Travel Industry Council to forward messages to Hong Kong's tour groups still in the Philippines, requiring them to come back to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Joseph Tung, executive director of Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC), said there were still five Hong Kong tour groups in the Philippines and they were expected to come back to Hong Kong before Thursday.

All nine incoming Hong Kong tour groups to the Philippines, between Aug. 24 and Sept. 8, would be canceled.

Tsang said his government was asking the Philippine government to explain the incident.

Tsang said he had been trying to contact Philippine President Benigno Aquino III since 4:00 p.m. local time, about five hours after the gunman hijacked the 21-member Hong Kong tour group. But all efforts failed, Tsang said.

The Hong Kong chief also thanked the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese embassy in the Philippines for their assistance during the incident.

Also in the day, the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central People's Government and the Commissioner's Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong expressed their shock and sorrow over the tragedy, and extended deep condolences to those dead and their families.

The Commissioner's Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that a 3-member group, led by vice commissioner Gao Yuchen, has joined in the task force set up by the Hong Kong government to take care of the post-incident issues.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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