A 60-year-old man was charged with arson after he set off a fire on an MTR train last Friday that injured 19 passengers, three of whom remain in critical condition with serious burns.
The suspect, who suffers from a mental disorder, was charged on Sunday following the shocking incident that took place during evening rush hour, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The man, identified as Cheung Kam-fai, is however unlikely to appear Monday at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court, which is set to hear the case, as he himself is in critical condition in a hospital after suffering serious burns.
The police are waiting for his condition to improve in order get a confessional statement and other details from him.
The terrifying incident took place at about 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 10, when Cheung allegedly poured flammable liquid on himself and passengers close to him before starting a blaze with a lighter.
It happened in a carriage on a Tsuen Wan line train that was heading to Tsim Sha Tsui from the Admiralty station.
Cheung was arrested and sent to hospital soon after the train stopped at Tsim Sha Tsui. Meanwhile, a total of 19 people were also rushed to hospitals with different degrees of burns and problems caused by heavy smoke inhalation.
According to the police, nine of the victims remained hospitalized as of Sunday night.
Among them was a 15-year-old girl surnamed Ko who is a student at St Paul’s Co-educational College. Another patient who is not out of danger and needs intensive care is a 38-year-old Taiwanese female tourist surnamed Chang.
Ko and Chang have both suffered second-degree burns.
MTR said all the victims can file claims for compensation from the company’s third-party insurance facility for passengers.
But Chang, who is not a Hong Kong resident, is facing high medical expenses for her stay at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Yen Chung-kuang, head of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, said the office will assist Chang in seeking reasonable compensation after the police investigations are concluded.
Meanwhile, the incident has led to health authorities coming under scrutiny as media reports revealed that Cheung was supposed to attend a follow-up consultation on the day of the attack but did not show up.
In response, Health Secretary Dr. Ko Wing-man said the government has been doing its best to improve services for mentally ill people.
A report from a steering committee that is looking into related issues will be released in the first half of the year, he said.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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