Hong Kong police said 18 people were injured in an arson attack on a subway train during evening rush hour, with one man arrested.
Three people were in a critical condition after the incident at 7.15pm o nFriday, while police said they had seized suspected liquid fire accelerants from the scene. Police ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack and said the man acted alone. Investigators were looking into his mental condition.
Video footage showed chaos on the platform of the packed Tsim Sha Tsui station, with a train carriage on fire and one man lying on the floor with his clothes ablaze as bystanders tried to help. Television news showed people with burn injuries as emergency personnel carried out rescue operations.
“I heard loud cries and the smell of the fumes didn’t smell like a normal fire – it had a chemical smell,” an eyewitness identified as Mr Chow told reporters at the scene. “Once I inhaled it, it burned the throat,” Chow said, adding that people were rushing out of the station.
Police said they arrested a 60-year-old man surnamed Cheung for arson. “The mental condition of the arrested person is one of the directions of the police’s investigation,” a government statement said.
A police source told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) the suspect was not on good terms with his family and had previously been arrested for minor crimes such as gambling. SCMP had earlier reported the man tried to light a Molotov cocktail and said “burn you to death” before he took out the bottle.
Local media said the suspect was also in critical condition but police would not confirm it.
The Tsim Sha Tsui station, which services a popular shopping and nightlife district, was evacuated following the incident with trains skipping the station on Friday night. It was reopened on Saturday morning.
The incident is a rare occurrence in the Asian finance hub where the transport network is known for its safety and efficiency.
In 2004 14 people were injured when a man started a fire in the subway’s Admiralty station during the morning rush hour.
Source: The Guardian