Date
16 October 2018
Relatives of the victim arrive at the hospital after learning of the accident. The victim was pronounced dead at around 2 p.m. on Monday. Photo: HKEJ/RTHK
Relatives of the victim arrive at the hospital after learning of the accident. The victim was pronounced dead at around 2 p.m. on Monday. Photo: HKEJ/RTHK

Student, 18, dies after being struck by lightning while hiking

An 18-year-old student died while hiking in the New Territories on Monday, apparently hit by a lightning.

The victim, surnamed Lo, went hiking along the MacLehose Trail in Ma On Shan with five of his friends on Monday morning, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

While on the trail, the Hong Kong Observatory issued a thunderstorm warning at 11 a.m. followed by an amber rainstorm signal at 12:15 pm.

Lo and his friends were at Section 4 of the trail, reaching Pyramid Hill shortly after noon, amid lightning and thunder.

Suddenly, Lo’s companions saw him lying unconscious on the ground. It is believed that he had been struck by lightning.

They called the police immediately. Lo was later sent by a Government Flying Service helicopter to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at around 2 p.m.

Data from the Observatory showed there were 1,029 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes between 12:00 p.m. and 12:59 p.m. on Monday and most of them were in the New Territories East, where Ma On Shan is located.

A post-mortem examination will be conducted to ascertain the cause of his death. His eyeglasses showed signs of having been burnt. It is suspected that the metal frame of his eyeglasses attracted the lightning to strike him.

Police investigation revealed that Lo, who was fond of doing exercises, had just completed his final year of studies at the South Island School under the English Schools Foundation (ESF) and was set to be a university freshman after the summer vacation. 

According to a relative, Lo’s parents booked a flight back to Hong Kong from Japan, where they were having a holiday, immediately after learning of their son’s death.

ESF director Adam Hughes called the fatal accident extremely unfortunate and paid his deepest condolences to Lo’s family and friends, adding that it will provide all the necessary support and assistance.

Chung Kin-man, a mountaineering expert, said Monday’s weather condition changed so fast that hikers could have been easily caught off guard.

Chung advised hikers to immediately look for a shelter at a low spot when expecting a thunderstorm.

They should seek cover, such as behind a rock, and stay away from metal objects such as mobile phones, alpenstocks or watches.

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TL/JC/CG

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