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LCQ8: Members of the public carrying out outdoor activities under inclement weather
     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-kwan and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Tang Ping-keung, in the Legislative Council today (September 8):

     In recent years, some members of the public have taken risks by carrying out outdoor activities such as hiking as well as chasing wind and wave during inclement weather, and accidents of their substaining injuries or deaths have occurred from time to time. For example, on July 20 this year when the Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 3 and the Amber Rainstorm Warning Signal were in force, a man was washed away by rapids while hiking in a stream in Ma On Shan and died unfortunately. Such members of the public not only recklessly disregarded their own safety, but also put search and rescue (S&R) personnel in danger. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) among the S&R calls involving outdoor activities received by the authorities in the past five years, of the number of those received when weather warnings were in force, and set out, by date of receipt, the outdoor activities and the number of S&R personnel involved in each call as well as the government departments to which such personnel belonged;

(2) of the average amount of public expenditure incurred in each of the S&R operations relating to the calls mentioned in (1), with a breakdown by the government departments and the types of equipment (including inflatable boats and helicopters) involved;

(3) whether it will study closing off dangerous hills and waters during the periods when specified weather warnings are in force, and prohibiting members of the public from going up such hills or going out to such waters during such periods without justifiable reasons, so as to prevent them from encountering danger;

(4) whether it will, by following the practices of the management authorities of the national parks in the Unites States, the authorities of the Taiwan region or certain prefectural governments of Japan, levy a post-incident "S&R charge" on those members of the public who have taken risks by carrying out outdoor activities under inclement weather during which they have encountered danger and called for help, so as to achieve punitive and deterrent effects; and

(5) whether it has plans to step up education and publicity efforts, so as to educate members of the public not to carry out high-risk outdoor activities under inclement weather; if so, of the details?


     Different government departments have been appealing to and reminding members of the public of the risks to perform outdoor activities under inclement weather through various channels to prevent accidents. Besides, relevant departments constantly review their emergency response capabilities, and step up their educational and publicity efforts to raise public awareness.

     Having consulted the relevant bureaux and departments, our consolidated reply to the Hon Cheung Kwok-kwan's question is as follows:

(1) From January 1, 2017 to July 31, 2021, the numbers of mountain rescue/immersion incidents handled by the Fire Services Department (FSD) when an Amber, a Red or Black Rainstorm Warning, or Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 3 or above was issued by the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) are tabulated below:
Number of mountain rescue incidents Number of immersion incidents
When a rainstorm warning was in force When Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No.3 or above was in force When a rainstorm warning was in force When Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No.3 or above was in force
2017 2 2 2 3
2018 2 4 1 0
2019 1 1 3 1
2020 4 2 2 0
(As of  July 31)
3 0 1 0

     The numbers of fire and ambulance personnel mobilised for the above rescue operations are tabulated below:

Type of Incident Date Location Number of Fire Personnel Number
of Ambulance Personnel
Mountain Rescue May 24 Kau Ling Chung, Lantau 30 6
June 12 Pang Ching Court, Wong Tai Sin 18 6
July 18 Bride's Pool Road, Tai Po 15 3
October 14 Hoi Pui Leng, Sha Tau Kok 12 3
Immersion June 17 In the waters off Waterfall Bay, Pokfulam 29 3
July 18 In the waters off Ma Tau Kok Public Pier, To Kwa Wan 33 3
August 22 In the waters of Castle Peak Road – Ting Kau 31 3
August 23 In the waters off Ma Tau Kok Public Pier, To Kwa Wan 34 3
October 15 In the waters off Cheung Fai Road, Tsing Yi 32 3
Type of Incident Date Location Number of Fire Personnel Number of Ambulance Personnel
Mountain Rescue June 17 Wong Lung Hang, Lantau 14 6
June 17 Lantau Trail, Lantau 13 3
August 22 Wilson Trail Section 1 13 3
September 1 Tai Lam Chung, Tuen Mun 25 6
September 12 Nei San Stream, Lantau 17 3
November 1 Kau Nga Ling, Lantau 18 3
Immersion August 20 In the waters off Western District Public Cargo Working Area 33 3
Type of Incident Date Location Number of Fire Personnel Number of Ambulance Personnel
Mountain Rescue April 19 Wong Lung Stream, Lantau 17 3
September 1 Coastal area, Redhill Peninsula, Southern District 20 3
Immersion April 20 In waters at Cape D'Aguilar, Southern District 176 6
July 20 Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter, Kwun Tong 32 4
July 31 In the waters off Tsim Sha Tsui 45 4
August 25 Riverside, Discovery Bay Road 22 3

Type of Incident Date Location Number of Fire Personnel Number of Ambulance Personnel
Mountain Rescue
June 7 South Lantau Country Trail 15 3
June 14 Wong Lung Stream, Lantau 16 3
July 31 Ngan Wan, Chai Wan 13 3
August 5 Yuk Kwai Shan, Southern District 32 6
September 12 Nam Long Shan, Southern District 17 3
September 12 High Island Reservoir, Sai Kung 11 3
Immersion February 13 In the waters off Pearl Island, Tuen Mun 93 15
June 7 Sam Ka Tsuen Typhoon Shelter, Kwun Tong 27 3
2021 (as of July 31, 2021)
Type of Incident Date Location Number of Fire Personnel Number of Ambulance Personnel
Mountain Rescue June 11 Lo Fu Tau Country Trail, Lantau 23 6
June 14 Cheung Sheung, Sai Kung 11 6
July 31 Ma Dai Stream, Sha Tin 64 6
Immersion June 1 In the waters off Turtle Cove, Southern District 76 15

     The FSD was mainly responsible for the above rescue operations. The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), the Government Flying Service (GFS) and the Civil Aid Service (CAS) provided appropriate support when needed and do not maintain statistics on the personnel deployed in these operations.

(2) When calls for emergency services are received, the FSD, the HKPF, the GFS and the CAS will deploy suitable manpower and rescue equipment to the scene depending on the situations.

     Taking a mountain search and rescue incident as an example, the FSD will deploy the Mountain Search and Rescue Team, Mountain Search and Rescue Support Team, mountain search and rescue dogs and specialised mountain rescue equipment including portable stretcher and rescue drone to the scene; the CAS will deploy the Mountain Search and Rescue Company; and the GFS will deploy rescue helicopter to assist the search and convey the injured.

     As regards response to reports of immersion and missing persons, the FSD will dispatch its Diving Tender, Speedboat and rescue equipment including Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle and Remote Controlled Lifesaving Float to the scene; the HKPF will deploy police launch; and the GFS will deploy rescue helicopter to assist the rescue operations as appropriate.

     The departments do not maintain statistics on the equipment deployed and the expenses involved in handling every emergency case.

(3) When the Black Rainstorm Warning Signal or Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 8 or above is issued by the HKO under inclement weather conditions, staff at the gazetted beaches under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) will, according to the existing guidelines, hoist red flags and put up notices, broadcast announcement on suspension of lifeguard services to warn beach visitors against entering the water, and advise them to leave as soon as possible so as to prevent accidents.

     As regards prohibiting vessels from setting sail, when issuing operating licences for local vessels, the Marine Department (MD) will, according to the regulation, require owners and coxswains of local vessels to cease vessel operations and seek suitable locations for shelter to ensure safety when a typhoon signal is hoisted in Hong Kong or under inclement weather. Moreover, every year as the typhoon season is drawing near, the MD will remind persons in control of local vessels to check their vessels and make appropriate shelter arrangements as soon as possible, including proceeding to typhoon shelters which can accommodate the vessels for anchoring.

(4) It is a long-standing practice of the Government to take swift and effective response to all emergency situations which pose threat to life, property and public security. While the Government strongly discourages the public from performing risky outdoor activities under inclement weather, the Government will still provide effective, reliable and efficient emergency services to people in distress or in need under all circumstances. The last thing we want to see is any people in need being hesitant in asking for help from emergency services due to any reasons, like levy.

(5) On stepping up educational and publicity efforts, relevant departments are striving to promote the importance of safety in water activities and mountaineering as follows.

Water Safety

(i) The MD organises safety seminars every year before the typhoon season begins. Relevant departments including the LCSD and the HKPF are invited to give talks on water safety under inclement weather, reminding the public to make adequate preparations before participating in water activities for the sake of safety. Furthermore, the MD produces and distributes various promotional leaflets to advise the public against engaging in high-risk activities at sea under inclement weather and to take heed of water safety. These promotional leaflets and videos for the safety of water activities are available on the MD's website for public access.

(ii) Apart from providing information such as the Water Safety Guidelines, General Rules on Water Safety and Do's And Don'ts at Beaches and Swimming Pools on its website, the LCSD also advises the public to take heed of water safety through various channels, such as swimmers' handbooks and posters, as well as Announcements in the Public Interest on television and radio.  In addition, to further promote public awareness of water safety, the LCSD launches the Water Safety Campaign every year in collaboration with the Hong Kong Life Saving Society, activities of which include slogan competitions and poster design competitions for primary and secondary school students.

Mountaineering Safety

(iii) The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) endeavours to promote safe hiking in country park, such as paying attention to the weather conditions when planning a hike, through various channels including exhibitions, seminars, website, social media, videos and posters. The AFCD has also posted weather information QR codes on country park information boards and installed electronic display panels at some popular spots in country parks to provide real-time weather information and forecast, such that countryside visitors may adjust their hiking routes as necessary.

(iv) The FSD makes use of different social media platforms, such as its website and Facebook page, to disseminate information on safety of participating in outdoor activities, including tips on pre-trip preparation, points to note on safety during the activities and ways to seek help when in distress.  It also issues warnings as the circumstances require to remind the public to pay attention to the weather conditions and refrain from performing outdoor activities under inclement weather.

(v) The CAS organises Mountaineering Safety Promotion Day regularly and hosts mountaineering and hiking safety seminars for secondary school students to enhance the public's knowledge and safety awareness in mountaineering.

(vi) The HKPF conducts regular joint exercises with relevant departments and organisations (including St. John Ambulance Brigade and public transport operators) and invites the public to participate in them, with a view to enabling the public to understand the importance of safe conduct of outdoor activities.
Ends/Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Issued at HKT 18:30
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