Ten Hongkongers dead, 58 missing
The death toll of Hong Kong residents in the tsunami disaster rose to 10 on Friday.
The latest casualty was an American-Chinese woman whose body has already been shipped back to the United States by her family, Deputy Secretary for Security, Michael Wong, revealed.
Wong said that as of Friday, 58 Hong Kong residents were still unaccounted for in the region, with 33 last reported to be missing in Thailand, nine in Indonesia, one in Malaysia and 15 in other areas. The number was 59 the previous day.
The number of "potentially" missing residents, meanwhile, increased to 153 from the previous day's figure of 148. Many of these people have not been sighted since the disaster struck on, but it remains unclear whether they were actually in the region at the time.
According to Wong, three more employers reported to the authorities they had not seen three of their employees since then, meaning that a total of six employees remain missing.
He said that two residents were still being treated at local hospitals.
On Friday, another contingent of 30 members of the task force returned home, leaving about 60 members in Thailand. Wong emphasized they would maintain basic services for Hong Kong residents still in Thailand.
"For example, our three hotlines will be maintained," he assured.The hotline numbers are: 66-96-471-215 and 66-96-471-208 in Thailand and 9038-6578 in Hong Kong.
In a related development, an aircraft carrying 76 tons of bottled water, tents, blankets and torches left Hong Kong for Jakarta on Friday night. The freight, offered free by Cathay Pacific Airways and Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited, was scheduled to arrive in the Indonesian capital early this morning.
Indonesian Consul-General Paiman Turnip said his country was grateful for the support by the SAR government and the two companies that made speedy delivery of the shipment possible.
A government spokesman said the SAR was also liaising with the governments of other affected countries to ascertain their needs and to map out logistics to provide emergency aid to the victims.
"Direct shipments at the government-to-government level have been made possible under a special mechanism set up by the Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee for this major disaster," the spokesman said.
He said a total of HK$8 million was earmarked for this and more would be allocated to address further appeals from the concerned governments if required.
Meanwhile, the government received a donation of about HK$5 million from more than 30 transport companies and trade associations for relief aid in South Asia.
Commissioner for Transport, Robert Footman, said the donations "demonstrated a strong sense of solidarity within the transport trade and the entire community to lend a helping hand to the tsunami victims and their families.