Petrol bombs explode outside home of Hong Kong man beset by gambling debts

PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/The Standard

A debt-ridden Hong Kong man and seven family members escaped unscathed after two petrol bombs exploded outside their flat in a Tuen Mun public housing block on Monday (Nov 8) night.

The 31-year-old and his relatives were playing mahjong when the two firebombs burst into flames in the public corridor outside his 20th floor flat in Wu King Estate's Wu Pik House just after 10.30pm.

Family members inside the flat at the time of the firebombing included his wife, parents and two children, according to a police source, who said the blaze was extinguished by the family and neighbours before emergency personnel arrived.

One of the neighbours, a 62-year-old man who broke the glass of a fire alarm and used a hose to help douse the flames, suffered a minor cut to his hand and was bandaged at the scene.

The wooden doors and security gates of the family's flat and the adjacent unit were blackened in the fire, according to police.

Police said no one required hospital treatment or evacuation.

The source said the investigation suggested the jobless man, who went bankrupt last year, was in debt after losing more than HK$300,000 (S$51,810) gambling online.

"The man had received telephone text messages and letters, demanding the repayment," he said, adding that police were investigating if the firebomb attack was linked.

The source condemned those behind the firebomb attack, saying it posed a danger not only to the safety of the victim and his family but their neighbours as well.

He said officers were checking surveillance camera footage to gather evidence. Police have classified the case as arson, and no arrests have been made so far.

In the first six months of this year, police have handled 159 reports of arson, down nearly 45 per cent from 287 cases in the same period last year.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.