24-year-old dies after collapsing during hike in Hong Kong

A 24-year-old man collapsed and died while hiking with a group of friends to Sai Kung’s High Island Reservoir.
PHOTO: Martin Chan

A 24-year-old man collapsed and died while hiking in Sai Kung on Saturday in the third fatal incident on the city’s trails in as many months.

The young man, surnamed Yik, was airlifted to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital along with a 53-year-old man in the same group who felt unwell.

The pair were among a group of 21 people enjoying a day out in Sai Kung Country Park. The hikers started their journey from Pak Tam Chung and were heading to High Island Reservoir, according to police.

Citing a friend, police said the younger man collapsed halfway along the two-hour walking route, and was unconscious when emergency services arrived. He was confirmed dead after being airlifted to the hospital in Chai Wan.

The city was sweltering amid temperatures averaging 32 degrees Celsius on Saturday, with high humidity. A hot weather warning has been in force since Friday morning, indicating an increased risk of heatstroke.

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After months cooped up indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic, and still unable to travel abroad this summer, Hongkongers have recently flocked to the city’s great outdoors.

Fire Services Department officials revealed in May that they were called out to rescue hikers 426 times in the first four months of this year – triple the amount recorded the same period last year. Of those rescued, 243 were injured, up from just 83 in the first four months of 2020.

In addition to more common emergencies such as heat exhaustion and twisted ankles, at least two other hikers have died in recent months.

In late May, a 33-year-old man was found dead below a remote trail in Pat Sin Leng, in the northern New Territories, five days after he went missing while on a hike.

His initial disappearance had sparked a search-and-rescue effort involving 300 police and fire services officers.

In April, a 24-year-old woman who had been missing for more than two days was found dead on Kowloon Peak.

Last year also saw a surge in mountain rescue incidents, which nearly tripled to 602 in 2020 from 215 the previous year.

The number of hiking deaths fell to 11 in 2020 from 13 the year before, but the number of injuries shot up to 323 from 121.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.