Search for missing paraglider continues; fire service teams focus on southern Lantau

Photo of a paraglider in Hong Kong taken last year. Picture: Facebook (via Hong Kong Paragliding Federation 香港滑翔傘聯會 – HKPF)
Photo of a paraglider in Hong Kong taken last year. Picture: Facebook (via Hong Kong Paragliding Federation 香港滑翔傘聯會 – HKPF)

The search for a paraglider blown off course on Lantau island has now entered its fourth day, with more than 100 emergency service personnel and volunteers scouring rugged terrain for signs of 44-year-old Patrick Chung Yuk-wa.

Flying a blue, purple and yellow paraglider, Chung was among a group of several paragliders who took off from an area known as Sunset Peak in Lantau South Country Park about 2pm on Sunday.

The group encountered strong winds from an abrupt squall. All but Chung, however, managed to land safely.

Strong winds, clouds and rain over the previous three days has hampered aerial search efforts, though police and fire departments, the Civil Assistance Service, and volunteers from paragliding groups have been conducting searches on land and by sea.

Ho Li, chairman of the Hong Kong Paragliding Federation, said he was still hopeful of finding Chung.

“It’s a very special situation there, the strong wind and strong clouds, right now, for two or three days the weather is not so good, the clouds are low,” he told Coconuts HK, noting the conditions made it difficult for helicopter search teams.

“We have been searching by human power. We keep going today, Patrick is the first priority so we try our best.”

A police source told the SCMP that signals from Chung’s phone — which had been received by transmission towers on Shek Kwu Chau and Cheung Chau, islands to the south of Lantau, on Monday afternoon — had not been detected on Tuesday, suggesting the device had gone dead.

A police spokesperson said there were no updates this morning on the search, which covers land, air and sea.

A spokeswoman from the Fire Services Department said they had deployed some 155 fire service and ambulance crew since Sunday. Their mountain search and rescue teams and a search boat had also been scouring the area.

She said that the main focus was on south Lantau, on the Chi Ma Wan peninsula, though teams were yesterday deployed to Cheung Chau island and Shek O, on the south of Hong Kong Island, after reports of paraglider sightings.

“Today, mostly the search operation is on Lantau, in the Chi Ma Wan area. We have already searched the area, but the command post is still there, Lantau south.”

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