Man arrested for trying to kill himself by starting fire in busy Hong Kong MTR station

A jobless man was arrested on Sunday night for allegedly starting a fire in one of Hong Kong's busiest train stations the previous day.

The 59-year-old suspect is believed to have tried to kill himself, police said, adding that he had no intention of harming others.

He was arrested at about 9.30pm at Un Kin House in Un Chau Estate, Cheung Sha Wan, where he lived alone.

The incident took place just before 10am on Saturday on the ground floor of Mong Kok station near the ticket vending machines. The flames sent panicked commuters and shop staff running for safety.

Assistant Mong Kok District Commander Chung Chi-ming said the suspect started the fire with paper and other flammable materials but grew frightened and gave up on his suicide attempt.

"It was lucky that the fire did not escalate and hurt others," Chung added.

The blaze was put out in about 30 seconds, and no one was injured. A charred mark measuring 1 metre by 1 metre was left on the floor. Train operations were not affected.

The fire left a mark on the MTR station floorPhoto: South China Morning Post

Chung said investigators had yet to find out if the suspect suffered from mental problems, but they believed he was troubled by loneliness and health and ageing issues.

He added that the part of the station where the suspect started the fire was not covered by security cameras. A large number of investigators had to comb through footage from surrounding locations to single out the suspect.

  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-2214444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-2837019
  • Sage Counselling Centre: 1800-5555555
  • Care Corner Mandarin Counselling: 1800-3535800

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.