Volunteer search for missing hiker enters fourth night at Hong Kong’s highest peak amid cold, despite official hunt ending

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A search and rescue mission by Hong Kong volunteers will enter its fourth night on Christmas Eve, as they scour the area around the city’s highest peak to find a missing hiker amid chilly conditions, even after authorities halted their own operation.

Anson Cheng, founder of the Hong Kong Guardians volunteer rescue group, on Sunday said he and three others headed to Tai Mo Shan in the New Territories to help look for the man every night since he was reported missing last week.

“The main difficulty is that we have no official data about the missing person,” said Cheng, adding his group was not likely to continue its search after Christmas Eve.

“We don’t know his height, age, outfit or other features that could help identify him.”

Emergency services vehicles at Tai Mo Shan. Authorities earlier mobilised 40 officers from different departments for the official search. Photo: Handout

The Mandarin-speaking man called police for help on Thursday, saying he was hiking at Tai Mo Shan – the city’s highest peak at 957 metres (3,140 feet) – but could no longer continue because of the cold weather.

The area was among the city’s coldest last week. Temperatures there hovered around freezing on Saturday morning, falling to as low as -1.6 degrees Celsius (29.1 Fahrenheit), the sixth-coldest on record in the area.

On Sunday, the mercury ranged between 5 and 9 degrees at Tai Mo Shan, according to the Observatory.

Cheng said that normally authorities were able to give out more personal information about missing hikers, but he believed that the government would find it more difficult to gather further details from the man’s family as he was not likely to be a local resident.

Hiker on Hong Kong’s highest peak missing amid freezing cold

The volunteer group leader said his team searched the area for between five and eight hours on each of the three prior nights, heading off around 10pm to 1am and continuing until 5am to 6am.

“We have to conduct our searches at these times because all of our volunteers have day jobs, and can only be part of this after work,” Cheng said.

The search on Christmas Eve was likely to be the volunteers’ last for this case, he said.

“The search area is quite spread out as we have very little information,” he said. “We also took into consideration the areas the authorities are searching and try not to duplicate the efforts, so as to not waste our resources.”

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He noted that the cold had not been an obstacle for the volunteers as they came prepared, adding he was thankful for the lack of rain, which would have made the operation much more challenging.

The police and fire services terminated their search and rescue operation on Saturday, with the area no longer cordoned off. The force said it had no plans for further search operations at present.

Emergency services had brought in 40 officers from the police force, Fire Services Department, Government Flying Service and Civil Aid Service for their search.

Cheng and his group were also part of a rescue mission in October in search of 17-year-old Matthew Tsang Hin-chit who went missing and was found alive in Ma On Shan Country Park after one week.

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