400 drill to test disaster response

Top News | Sophie Hui and Sum Lok-kei 15 Nov 2017

Dozens of people "died or were injured" when illegal immigrants in a hijacked police vehicle smashed through a carnival crowd and crashed into a food truck whose gas cylinders exploded.

That was the horror scene enacted in a drill at a water treatment plant in Sheung Shui yesterday.

It involved 400 officers from eight departments: police, firemen, the Auxiliary Medical Service, the Immigration Department, Hospital Authority, Civil Aid Service, Water Supplies Department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

A police spokesman said the major exercise, codenamed Firesweeper, was to test and enhance the ability of the departments to react to large-scale emergencies and improve coordination.

The simulation began with officers taking 11 illegal immigrants back to the mainland.

Then the driver was held hostage by four illegal immigrants. They took control of the vehicle but as they were fleeing toward the border they lost control and crashed into a crowd attending the opening day of a carnival.

The vehicle smashed the stage and thundered into a food truck, causing the gas tanks to explode, resulting in many casualties.

The four criminals then hijacked a private car and drove into another educational event held by AFCD near the water treatment plant, where tutors, children and parents were taken hostage.

Police negotiators arrived and tried to persuade the criminals to release the hostages.

In the meantime, fire officers, ambulancemen and the Civil Aid Service took part in the rescue and sent victims to hospitals.

Other government officials watched the exercise.

The drill assumed that more than 30 people died in the incident and dozens of dummies were taken to a temporary morgue.

Among the participants was a new police unit, Division D, under the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.

Several officers from Division D gathered evidence in what was the first public appearance of the unit. The unit comprises about 35 officers and is led by a superintendent.

It was created in the aftermath of the 2016 Lunar New Year Mong Kok riot, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said last month.

The new division started partial operations on July 1 under the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, a police spokesman has said.

The spokesman said the establishment of the unit was done in view of "the global trend of terrorism" and the force's "experience in tackling massive disasters and cross-district public events."

A source said the drill was to test responses to a major incident and not anti- terrorism.

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