A 59-year-old woman was in critical condition in hospital after she threw herself into a joss paper furnace at a temple in Sam Dip Tam in Tsuen Wan, Apple Daily reports.
Police believed the woman, surnamed Chan, had tried to end her life, although she had left no suicide note. The case was listed as attempted suicide.
The incident took place at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, when some visitors to the Yuen Yuen Institute saw a woman jump into a furnace measuring 12 meters long and 4.5 meters wide across the parking lot, prompting them to call for help.
A total of 54 firemen and paramedics arrived at the scene in about four minutes to rescue her.
The furnace, used by worshippers to burn joss paper, is 2.5 meters deep; it was still aflame when the rescue team arrived.
Four firemen had to wear high temperature resistant clothes and put on respirators before climbing into the furnace, while other colleagues sprayed water to cool it down.
After a while, they were able to pull out the woman, who was half unconscious, and rushed her to Princess Margaret Hospital. Three of the firemen were also admitted to the hospital for burns.
The woman was later transferred to Queen Mary Hospital. She was still in critical condition at press time.
Investigation revealed that the woman, who lives at Kingswood Villas in Tin Shui Wai with her aged mother, retired as an office secretary a few years ago.
While her mother said she is not in the habit of worshipping at temples and had no idea why she went there, a family member told police that she has been showing symptoms of depression since her retirement.
Police found nothing suspicious at the scene and concluded she only went there with a shopping bag but no worship items.
Founded in 1950, the Yuen Yuen Institute spreads the principles of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, upholds the eight virtues – filial piety, respect, loyalty, fidelity, propriety, justice, honesty and honor – while promoting social welfare, according to information from the website of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
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