Police, fire, hospital and MTR officials have made a fresh attempt to dispel rumours that up to three protesters were beaten to death by police at Prince Edward Station on August 31, producing stills from CCTV and providing a timeline of events.
Senior police superintendent Yolanda Yu started Tuesday's briefing by blasting those spreading "malicious rumours", saying people were trying to smear various government departments. But she noted that the allegation being made is serious and said officials understand the public has concerns.
Senior assistant chief ambulance officer, Lo Shun-tong, explained why the Fire Services Department initially reported 10 casualties at the station, but later revised this down to seven.
Lo said it was difficult to count the injured because the situation was chaotic, people were moving around the station, and it was hard to tell them apart because they were all dressed alike.
"The ambulance incident officer tried to assess the number of injured persons, but found that they were at different locations of the platform, which also changed from time to time, making it rather difficult to conduct a headcount. After preliminary checking, the ambulance incident officer estimated that there were 10 injured persons at the scene," Lo said.
But Lo said that after backup personnel arrived at the station, they gathered those injured together in one spot for treatment and another headcount was carried out.
"The incident officer once again re-counted the number of injuries and confirmed there were a total of seven who needed to be hospitalised. Thus, once again he updated the number of injuries to the communications control centre. Three of them were severely injured, two of them had normal injuries, and two were lightly injured," he said.
The ambulance chief explained again how the seven were later taken by train to Lai Chi Kok where they were transferred to ambulances to be taken to hospital.
The MTR, meanwhile, released around two dozen still images from CCTV cameras showing crowds of people on a platform, riot police running through the station, and ambulance personnel at the scene.
But the images didn't appear to show any interaction between police officers and the dozens of people arrested.
The railway operator also didn't release the actual video recordings, and it noted that three cameras had been damaged or defaced.
The MTR's chief of operating, Sammy Wong, explained that they couldn't make the recordings public because they had to strike a balance between the privacy of passengers and the public's concerns about what happened at Prince Edward.
"We tried our best to dig out from the CCTV footage and work out a time sequence, time stamps and screen captures for the public to understand [what happened] and to address their concerns," Wong said.
Senior Manager of the Hospital Authority, Andy Kung, stressed that no deaths were reported in the incident and those injured have since been discharged from hospital.
Police said 53 people were arrested at Prince Edward on the night of August 31, including the seven people taken to hospital.
The fact that all the media were barred from the scene has fuelled speculation about what went on inside the station, and with members of the public still building shrines and placing flowers outside the building, the police were asked whether they now regret preventing journalists from filming their operation.
Senior superintendent Yu responded by saying that officers had to make a lot of arrests that night and they wanted to protect the safety of journalists during what was a serious situation.
Officials in fresh bid to quash MTR death rumours
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