Nearly 10 per cent of solo hikers who needed rescuing ended up dying, Hong Kong police have warned, urging residents to install a GPS app to make tracking easier during accidents.
The force and fire services officials on Saturday urged residents to refrain from going on trails alone and posing for selfies at risky spots, as they rolled out the Project Hill Pal campaign to raise awareness about the importance of hiking with other people.
Chief Inspector Fu Chun-yip, of Kowloon East Regional Headquarters, said from September last year to August authorities mounted 256 hiking-related rescue operations, of which about 65 cases, or 25 per cent, involved solo climbers.
“All you need to do is to activate the app while you are hiking. The data will be deleted after seven days so it won’t affect users’ privacy,” he said.
Police, along with the Fire Services Department and the Civil Aid Service, distributed leaflets in five hiking hotspots to remind residents about safety and to refrain from hiking alone.
Mo Shan-hoi, station commander of Sai Kung Fire Station, warned people not to hike alone, adding that residents should be well-equipped with enough food and tools, and avoid going to risky areas, especially to take selfies.
“The Fire Services Department often receives calls from hikers for help in cases where they got lost, injured, trapped on a mountain top or suffer a heatstroke,” he said.
“Hikers should cancel their journeys during bad weather and choose an appropriate route. A common cause of accidents was usually due to hiking alone or a lack of equipment. When we carried out our rescue operations, the most difficult thing was identifying the person’s exact location.”
Official figures showed there were eight hiking-related fatalities in the first five months of this year. The number of deaths rose to 14 last year from 11 in 2020.
Injuries in hiking-related cases reached 232 between January and May this year, according to the department. The number of people injured increased to 608 in 2021, from 323 in the year before.
In the first five months of this year, the department carried out 408 rescue operations, while there were 951 last year and 602 in 2020.