Hong Kong schools in prayers
On the first day after the long Christmas and New Year holiday, some seats in the territory's schools were left vacant.
One teacher and eight students, from eight different schools, were reported missing in the tsunami disaster in South and Southeast Asia, according to the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB).
They include Lo Chi-ping, who was a student at Pui Ching Primary School.
At Pui Ching, teachers and students prayed for the safety of Lo, aged 9, and her parents before class started.
Lo's father, Lo Yam-kuen, was a Chinese University professor in physics.
The university confirmed that a relative of the family had contacted them to verify the Lo family had travelled to Khao Lak in Thailand for a vacation.
Lo's classmates said they were unhappy and felt like crying after they heard the news of her disappearance.
"We really miss her, and hope she will return to us soon," they said.
Some individual students were emotionally disturbed by the disaster events, and had nightmares or trouble sleeping, according to teachers at the school.
Parents of Lo's classmates said they had noticed that some of their children were melancholy, but appeared calm on the whole.
Meanwhile, form two students at St Joseph's College also prayed for their classmate Marco Lam Man-ngo, who was vacationing with his family in Thailand when disaster struck.
St Joseph's College Vice-Principal Peter Ip Tin-Yau said five teams of eight to nine social workers arrived at the school yesterday to provide counselling to students.
"Lam was a quiet and studious boy, I feel very sad about his disappearance," Ip added.
The EMB said it has sent psychiatrists to four of the eight schools to counsel students and teachers in response to requests by the schools. All the schools have established crisis management teams and have arranged social workers to provide assistance.
"The situation at local schools is not serious, and all schools with missing staff or students have set up effective crisis management measures," said a spokesman of the bureau.
He said the bureau expects more reports of missing teachers and students in the coming days, and will provide appropriate assistance to schools where necessary.