The national flag (right) and the Hong Kong SAR regional flag fly at half-mask at the Central Government Offices, Tamar on Feb 13, 2018. (ROY LIU / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG - The government mourned victims of Saturday’s fatal New Territories bus crash by lowering the national and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region flags at government headquarters to half-mast on Tuesday.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said all principal officials of the SAR government would not participate in any festive activities – despite Chinese New Year coming on Friday
The accident on the road to Tai Po from Sha Tin racecourse killed 19 people and injured 66. It is Hong Kong’s second-deadliest road accident ever.
It is the first time the government has flown the city’s flags at half-mast since 2012 – after a ferry collision off Lamma Island left 39 passengers dead. At that time, the government also canceled a fireworks display scheduled for National Day celebrations.
The city’s principal officials, Executive Council members and some Legislative Council members all paid silent tribute before the start of their regular meetings on Tuesday morning.
Speaking to journalists before her weekly ExCo meeting, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reiterated that all principal officials of the SAR government would not participate in any festive activities – despite Chinese New Year coming on Friday. “I myself will not go to the flower market,” she said.
Meanwhile, all officials from the Liaison Office and its three regional working departments, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR and the People’s Liberation Army Garrison in Hong Kong also paid a silent tribute to the victims on Tuesday morning.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam leads members of the Executive Council to observe a moment of silence at the Chief Executive's Office on Feb 13, 2018 in tribute to the victims of the traffic accident on Tai Po Road on Feb 10, 2018.
Lam expressed her gratitude to the nation’s leaders for their concerns.
President Xi Jinping on Monday sent his deepest condolences and sympathies to victims and their families via Wang Zhimin, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong.
Xi also commended the SAR government for its emergency management work.
Wang also relayed condolences and concern from Premier Li Keqiang and National People’s Congress Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang.
The city’s annual Lunar New Year fireworks, which had been scheduled for Saturday, second day of the New Year, were also canceled.
The driver of the crashed bus, 30-year-old Chan Ho-ming, appeared at Fanling Magistrates Court on Tuesday. He has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.
Chan was denied bail as the case is “too serious”; prosecutors said they were considering a “more serious charge” against him.
The hearing is adjourned until April 10.
In Hong Kong’s second-deadliest ever road traffic accident last Saturday, a double-decker bus filled with horse-racing fans toppled over on Tai Po Road.
Eighteen people were pronounced dead at the scene and one died in hospital.