- Lawmaker Alvin Yeung makes document public at press conference, flanked by three masked fire services officers
- Fire Services Department blasts leak of document, calling it irresponsible and saying it will lead to more confusion and misunderstanding
Multiple changes were made in the operations logbook of the much-scrutinised removal of injured protesters at a Hong Kong MTR station in late August in the days that followed, an internal document from the Fire Services Department showed.
But the fire services authorities hit out at the leak of the records as irresponsible on Tuesday night, saying the partial disclosure could lead to more confusion and misunderstanding about the operation.
The internal incident log, which was made public on Tuesday by lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, renewed doubts about discrepancies in the number of injuries reported at Prince Edward station on August 31.
Officials earlier repeatedly attempted to debunk unfounded rumours that three anti-government protesters were killed by police's use of excessive force on the night in question.
The rumours, which started after officials revised the figures of injured from 10 to seven, were fuelled by the fact police asked all journalists to leave the station at around 11.10pm the night of the incident.
The department earlier stressed there were no deaths reported and its officers could have got the initial figure wrong in the chaotic situation in the station.
Based on the last edited records disclosed by Yeung, a probationary ambulance officer estimated about 10 to 15 patients in the station when he first arrived at 11.46pm on August 31.
Shortly after midnight, he located nine people injured on a platform in Prince Edward station, some of whom had sustained head injuries, shortness of breath and leg sprains.
But 14 minutes later, the officer revised the figure to 10, including six classed as serious cases.
At about the same time, the log showed the Hospital Authority directed that the injured be sent to four facilities " Kwong Wah Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Caritas Medical Centre, and Prince Margaret Hospital.
But the MTR Corporation was only notified of the nine initially reported injured.
There was no communication recorded between frontline paramedics and the control centre for 26 minutes, from 12.36am to 01.02am. The figure was later scaled down to seven, with the number of serious cases reduced from six to three, who suffered from chest pains, head injuries and shortness of breath.
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The log showed the entries on the injury figures, hospital information and police's orders to send the injured from Prince Edward to Lai Chi Kok stations were accessed 15 times on September 3 and September 10. It was not immediately clear what changes were made, as the system only showed the time the entry was last saved.
According to three masked department officers who joined Yeung's press conference by video link, any changes made in the records would be revealed in the changes of the time the entry was last saved. The officers were not involved in the operation that night.
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"There was no death recorded, but there are a number of doubts arising from the document that need to be further answered by the Fire Services Department or the Hospital Authority," said Yeung. He would write to the Security Bureau, asking them to disclose the complete records.
The fire officers said it was unusual for the logs to be amended days after the incident, as it was usually done in the minutes or hours following an occurrence.
"The number of injured people and location was already recorded; that should not need to wait three days to make any revision," said one of the masked individuals.
They have urged the MTR Corp to disclose the CCTV footage from the station on August 31.
In response, the department condemned the leak, saying the amendments were made after officers repeatedly verified the records from the night amid public concern.
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But the department said it was only normal to supplement or amend the records "to ensure the logbook accurately reflected the reality".
"The practice is normal, particularly common in major incidents, rather than being a rare practice according to some who barely know the situation," the department said in a press statement.
It said officers went through over 700 recordings of the operation and cross-checked with senior officers involved.
"It was most irresponsible that some alleged department personnel interpreted the operation logbook at face value, without being fully familiar with the operation, details and context," the statement continued.
Separately, Director of Fire Services Li Kin-yat reiterated that the department had already provided a factual account based on frontline officers' observations and records.
Li made the remark when meeting pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching on Tuesday, as he stressed communications during operations were sometimes done face-to-face or by telephone, and not all were covered by the control centre's recording system.
But some protesters who joined a rally at Sham Shui Po MTR station remained unconvinced.
A 50-year-old man who only gave his surname as Chan said the government should release the full CCTV recording from the night.
"The incident log didn't change my opinion that police broke the law," Chan, who works in international trade, said.
"Only the CCTV recording can answer our questions," said a 39-year-old clerk surnamed Yeung.
They were among 130 people who attended a street-side screening of a South Korean political film about the nation's democratisation process on Tuesday evening.
Additional reporting by Yujing Liu
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