Prince Edward 8.31 — Differing injury counts lead to suspicion

After 8.31 Prince Edward Incident, many people suspect that someone died in the station because of the discrepancy in the injuries and the closure of the subway station for more than 30 hours afterward. FactWire got in touch with 47 of the arrestees from that night to reconstruct the chaotic situation in the subway station.

Government

Editor’s note:

On the night of August 31, the police were carrying out an operation at Prince Edward subway station. Whether anybody died in Prince Edward Station on August 31 is a question on everyone’s mind.

The police, fire department and MTR have not given a full account of what happened in the station that night, including disclosing the CCTV footage from the station.

To seek the truth, FactWire spoke with 47 people who were arrested in the station to try to reconstruct the situation that night. After three months of investigations, we could not conclude that anybody had died. We will share our findings at this stage for the sake of public interest.


—————————————————————————————————————————————————

November 29, Hong Kong, (FactWire) – On the night of August 31, the police were carrying out an operation at Prince Edward subway station. Police officers drove reporters away and stopped paramedics from entering the station. Records which were later shown by the Fire Services Department revealed that the number of injured people fell from 10 to 7.

The discrepancy in the injuries and the closure of the subway station for more than 30 hours afterward have caused many to suspect that someone died in the station.

After the incident, Fire Command, Ambulance Command and police officers reported different injury counts, which raised major public suspicion. FactWire got in touch with 47 of the arrestees from that night to reconstruct the chaotic situation in the subway station.

Only one arrestee said that he came into contact with the PAO, while five of the injured said they didn’t receive first aid from that officer

Only one of the arrestees told FactWire that he came into contact with the probationary ambulance officer (PAO) who reported that there were 10 injured people, while five of them said they didn’t receive first aid from that officer. 

A total of 17 people had expressed discomfort at the scene. Ten of them were not immediately sent to a hospital.

— Restricted access —

Police made arrests in Prince Edward station at around 10:55 pm on August 31. Officers from the Special Tactical Squad and riot police rushed into the station, subdued people on the L3 platform and in train carriages, and drove out all reporters from the station at around 11:45 pm. 


Related Stories:
Prince Edward 8.31 — Puzzle of the six rumored “deaths” solved
Prince Edward 8.31 — Chronology of a chaotic scene


The announcement that 10 people were injured at Prince Edward station came from a probationary ambulance officer. 

According to live media broadcasts, the PAO, wearing a fluorescent orange jacket and holding a clipboard, entered the station concourse at 11:36 pm. 

Until 12:23 am, when the second batch of more than 10 paramedics came to reinforce, the PAO was the only paramedic who was allowed into the station by the police.

According to the incident log of the Fire Services Department (FSD), firemen received a No. 2 fire alarm at 10:57 pm and entered the station. At 11:18 pm firemen reported that “about 20 people were arrested” and that they were “confirming the number of injuries with the police”. 

The PAO reported at 11:42 pm that he was going to the scene to count the number of the injured. Four minutes later, he reported that there were about 10 to 15 injured people and had requested five reinforcement teams.

At about 12:01 am on September 1, the PAO made another report, this time saying that nine people were injured at the scene, including those with head injuries, shortness of breath and sprained foot. 

Fourteen minutes later, that number went up to 10, with the PAO categorizing the injured into  six serious injuries (red), two moderate injuries (yellow) and two minor injuries (green).

According to another FSD press conference on September 19, the department disclosed the record of the ten injuries. 

They included:

— Six serious injuries (red): Two men with head injuries, 1 man with breathing difficulty, 1 man with pain in rib and two women with breathing difficulty

— Two moderate injuries (yellow): One man with a left ankle injury and one man with a sprained left foot

— Two minor injuries (green):  One man with injury in left shoulder and one man with dizziness.

The department said that although it launched the “Multiple Casualties Incident” mechanism at 11:05 pm, a large number of paramedics were blocked by police officers and could only wait outside the station. 

At 12:23 am, the reinforcement teams entered the station from Exit E with the help of MTR staff and firefighters.

However, they only handled seven injured people after entering the station.

According to FSD records, at 1:02 am on September 1, the PAO confirmed that seven people were injured. 

They included:

— Three serious injuries (red): A man with a head injury, a man with chest pain and a woman with breathing difficulty

— Two moderate injuries (yellow): A man with head injury and a woman with breathing difficulty

— Two minor injuries: A man with injury in left shoulder and a man with dizziness

Records also showed that a senior superintendent of police said these injured people would be taken to Lai Chi Kok station by train and there would be an ambulance waiting there at 1:07 am.

The injured people interviewed by FactWire recalled that they were each taken care of by two to three paramedics. 

One of the injured overheard a conversation between a man in a white uniform and a paramedic. The man in white shouted out: “Seven, there are seven wounded”, but then felt unsure and wanted to double-check with the paramedic.

Later on, the seven injured people, accompanied by paramedics took an elevator to an upper level and boarded a train heading to Lai Chi Kok together with the arrested people.

On the same night, firefighters deployed at the station also had inconsistent reports on the headcount.

Shortly after the PAO confirmed that there were 10 injuries, an assistant divisional officer from FSD reported that there were nine injured on the platform, including two people with head injuries, one person with shortness of breath, and others with minor injuries.

An unidentified police officer claimed that there were no injuries and prevented paramedics from entering

At 12:15 am, when the PAO reported that there were 10 injured people, a principal ambulance man reported to the control center that an unidentified police officer at Prince Edward station Exit E claimed that there were no injuries and prevented paramedics from entering.

FactWire contacted 47 of the 52 arrestees including five injured who were sent to hospital and summarised their accounts. From 11:36 pm when the PAO entered the station to 12:17 am when most of the people were arrested at the end of the platform, only one person had contact with the PAO. 

One of those injured said a paramedic wearing a fluorescent orange jacket had inquired about his situation, recorded his injury and left. This paramedic did not reappear and the injured man did not receive first aid.

Another arrestee told FactWire that before the police announced the arrest, a paramedic whispered: “Last chance to say you’re feeling unwell and want to go to the hospital”.

The remainder of the arrested people said they had not seen any paramedics at the station.

Five injured interviewees said they received first aid from firemen and did not have contact with the PAO.

FactWire’s investigation showed that the number of injured was more than the seven people who were sent to hospital from Lai Chi Kok station.

At least 10 people had indicated injuries or discomfort but did not receive first aid

Including the arrested person who met the paramedic in the fluorescent orange jacket, at least 10 people had indicated injuries or discomfort to police officers, firemen or paramedics in the station, but they were not examined and did not receive first aid. 

— Changing numbers —

FactWire looked further into how the tally of 10 injuries in the initial report was lowered to seven.

The total number of injured people who were sent to hospital was different than the initial count of 10 injuries by the PAO.

The PAO initially reported two men with head injuries as “seriously injured”, however, when they were sent to the hospital, only one of them was categorized as “serious”, while the other was categorized as “moderate”. 

The initial report with 10 injuries also said there were three “seriously injured” people with difficulty breathing, while only two people with such difficulties were sent to hospital, one was categorized as “serious”, the other was categorized as “moderate”.

Another person with chest pain was considered to be “seriously injured”. He is believed to be the one who was initially marked as having difficulty breathing, according to investigation results. 

When comparing the injury records, a man with pain in his ribcage, a man who had a sprained left foot and a man who had a left ankle injury “went missing” from the records. Many of the people interviewed by FactWire said they had suffered foot injuries. It is unclear if any of them were among the missing three injuries.

None of the 47 people FactWire spoke to recalled having rib pain, but FSD confirmed that there was a patient with rib pain sent to hospital from Kwai Chung Police Station that day. It is not clear if this person was one of those arrested at Prince Edward Station.

According to an FSD press conference on September 12, there was only one paramedic in the station at that time and he did not bring triage tags with him to the scene. So the injured had not been labeled with triage color tags, making it more difficult to conduct a headcount.

FactWire asked the FSD whether the PAO had personally counted, graded and treated the injured people. 

The department responded by saying the PAO went straight to L3 after entering the station and did not stop at L2.

Once the officer got to L3, he immediately inquired about the arrestees’ injuries and performed preliminary check-ups and made written notes.

The department added that as there were firefighters treating some of the injured on the platform, the officer focused on counting the number of injuries and performing triage.

It didn’t mention whether the officer had personally treated the injured people.

The St. John’s Ambulance team replied to FactWire stating that as of 12:26 am on September 1, a total of four St John’s ambulances were waiting at Prince Edward Station.

After receiving residents’ requests for help at 01:03 am, one of the ambulances was dispatched to Lai Chi Kok station. St John’s staff made contact with six people who were in shock but did not need to be hospitalized. The St. John’s team was not in contact with any of the injured people from Prince Edward Station.

Investigation methodology

In order to reconstruct the August 31 Prince Edward incident, FactWire studied images and 17 videos — 17 hours in total — and conducted a headcount of arrested people in different parts of the station based on their appearance and clothing.

FactWire successfully contacted the 47 arrested interviewees through social media, lawyers and waiting for them outside a police station.

FactWire verified their identification based on the time, location, appearance and actions they described and the collected footage. 

Afterwards, we summarized all the accounts from the interviewees, including their locations at Prince Edward station, their movements, the timings of their experiences and recreated the incident with accounts that were agreed by at least half of the interviewees. 

In order to protect the interviewees, some information and some of their accounts of what happened that night could not be disclosed.

Related stories