Date
22 October 2017
Albert Lai said the water cannons the Hong Kong police force intends to buy can be lethal weapons. Photos: HKEJ, AFP
Albert Lai said the water cannons the Hong Kong police force intends to buy can be lethal weapons. Photos: HKEJ, AFP

Water cannons can endanger lives, HK police warned

A human rights group has urged police to abandon their plan to buy three new water cannons at a cost of HK$27 million, saying the devices intended for crowd dispersals could cause serious injuries and even endanger lives.

The Hong Kong Civil Rights Observer (HKCRO) said the water cannons could produce water jet streams with the force of 320 pounds when they hit a person within five meters, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.

The HKCRO commissioned engineer Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of The Professional Commons, and Dr. Tsing Nam-kiu, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Mathematics, to study the impact of the water cannons.

Their study, based on information from Turkish anti-riot vehicle manufacturer Mogol Makine, showed that the water cannons could blast out 2,400 liters of water per minute, which would translate to a force of around 43 horsepower.

A water jet with a radius of around two to three inches could create a force equivalent to a car running at full speed and throwing a person to the wall, Lai said, noting that such an impact could be life-threatening.

Lai said he is only estimating the force based on similar models, but the ones the Hong Kong police force intends to buy could be more powerful.

It is not practical to use water cannons in Hong Kong, where roads are narrow and full of obstacles, Lai said.

“It could lead to serious injuries if someone is hit by the water jet and thrown against the railings on the roadside,” he added.

HKCRO official Andrew Shum said there is no need for water cannons for crowd control as most protests in the city are generally peaceful and orderly.

He warned that a protester in Germany lost 5 percent of his vision in the right eye after being blasted with a water cannon five years ago.

The Hong Kong police force so far has refused to disclose details about the water cannons such as their power and the guidelines for their use.

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EL/JP/CG

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