Hong Kong families recount Philippine bus hijack tragedy

15 tourists were still aboard the bus as Philippine commandos undertook what police now acknowledge was a botched rescue.

Hong Kong families recount Philippine bus hijack tragedy

 

A Hong Kong woman who survived a siege on a Manila bus recounts how her husband charged the lone gunman, only to be killed. Another teenage survivor says she cowered for her life during the ordeal.

The two were among 15 tourists still aboard the bus as Philippine commandos undertook what police now acknowledge was a botched rescue.

"I can't bear this reality," said the middle-aged woman, identified as Ms Leung, half-choking on her grief as she spoke to Hong Kong's cable television. "I wanted to embrace my husband and die with him. But then I thought of my children."

Ms Leung also lost her two daughters in the gunfire -- Jessie, 14, filmed peeking through the bus curtains, and Doris, 21, who had been studying in Canada.

The sole remaining member of her family, her teenage son Jason, was in intensive care after undergoing brain surgery.

There were seven families in the 21-member tour group, including a tour guide, local media reported. They had been on a four-day package tour to the Philippines -- a popular Southeast Asian holiday destination.

Flags were flown at half mast in Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, and authorities issued a travel warning to the Philippines.

Many Hong Kong residents, including the city's leader Donald Tsang, criticised the slow and seemingly disorganised manner in which the commandos tried to storm the tour bus as the hostage taker, a disgruntled ex-police officer, was firing inside.

"Why didn't they help us earlier ... the Philippines government?" murmured Ms. Leung, a vacant look in her eyes.

Several small protests were held outside Hong Kong's Philippines consulate.

Other survivors spoke of harrowing scenes inside the bus as commandos battled the gunman for more than an hour before he was shot in the head and killed.

"I hid under a chair," Tracey Wong, 15, told reporters from her hospital bed, her voice barely audible. "The police sprayed pepper spray and it was tough for us inside."

She later learned that both her parents had been killed.

A Buddhist ceremony with monks in orange robes was held at the massacre site on Tuesday, attended by relatives of victims and several survivors.

"I'm more at peace of heart," said one middle-aged hostage who escaped harm. "We are Christians and God helped us a lot."

Hong Kong authorities said they had requested the bodies of the victims be flown home by Wednesday night.
 

Reuters

Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2010, 15:39
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