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HK stages massive rally to mourn hostage victims

 

People parade to express their condolences for the families of the bus hijack victims in Hong Kong, south China, Aug. 29, 2010. Eight Hong Kong residents lost their lives in a tour bus hijack occured in Philippine's capital Manila on Aug. 23, 2010.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents joined in a massive rally on Sunday afternoon to mourn for the eight victims of last Monday's hostage crisis and demand the Philippine authorities to apologize for the tragedy and conduct a thorough probe soon.

Initiated by several political organizations, Hong Kong residents started to pour into the city's landmark Victoria Park after around 1:00 p.m. local time in the day despite swelteringly hot weather.

In a brief ceremony before the march started, President of Hong Kong's Legislative Council Jasper Tsang, the city's other lawmakers and other marchers observed a 3-minute silence to mourn for those killed in the tragedy.

In his speech, Tsang, on behalf of the city's 60 lawmakers, expressed shock and sorrow over the incident and extended deep condolence to the victims of the tragedy and their families.

Tsang said lawmakers had blasted the Philippine authorities for their blunders in handling the crisis, which led to deaths and injuries of Hong Kong's tourists.

Lawmakers also pressed the Hong Kong government to demand that the Philippine side should apologize for the tragedy and conduct a thorough investigation as soon as possible. They also asked the city's government to seek for a direct involvement in the investigation.

Hong Kong police estimated that some 26,000 people gathered at the Victoria Park and expected more people to join in the procession during the march. The organizers had said earlier that they expected more than 50,000 people would participate in the march.

At around 3:00 p.m., demonstrators, including the city's lawmakers, began to leave the Victoria Park and marched towards the Chater Garden at Central on the Hong Kong Island.

They held such banners in black as 'Deepest Condolences to the Families of the Victims' and 'Demand thorough Probe into the Truth of the Incident'.

Most of the marchers were in black or white shirts. The march was staged in peace and order.

Upon arrival at the Chater Garden, lawmakers led other marchers to observe a 1-minute silence before laying flowers or tying yellow ribbons on handrails.

Eight Hong Kong people were killed and another seven injured, with one in serious conditions, in the 11-hour hostage crisis in Philippine capital Manila on Aug. 23.

The dead and those injured were part of a 21-member Hong Kong tour group, which was taken hostage by a dismissed Filipino policeman on Aug. 23 along with four Filipinos including a driver and a guide on board a bus.

The hijacker was killed by police in a rescue operation.

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