Mon, Oct 17, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Swimmer dies in Hong Kong harbor race: media reports

AFP, HONG KONG

A swimmer drowned yesterday in Hong Kong and another was left in critical condition as they took part in the territory’s annual cross-harbor swim, which attracts world-class international competitors.

Local media said the man who died was rushed to hospital after being pulled unconscious from the water by a rescue boat.

He was reported to be in his 40s.

A woman thought to be in her 60s was separately pulled unconscious from the water and is reported to be in intensive care in hospital.

The 1,500m race saw about 3,000 people swim between two piers on opposite sides of the Hong Kong harbor — 500 more than last year, according to reports.

Some local media questioned why there were only 10 additional lifeguards when the field had expanded so much. There was a total of 120 lifeguards at the event, local broadcaster RTHK reported on its Web site.

Swimmers are split into racing and recreational groups — both the dead man and the hospitalized woman were taking part in the leisure category, which is for slower swimmers, reports said.

Local media cited the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association president as saying that the number of lifeguards as sufficient for the event.

“We are very saddened by the news and will do whatever possible to help his family get through this difficult time,” the South China Morning Post cited association president Ronnie Wong as saying.

RTHK said Wong had confirmed the man’s death and the woman’s hospitalization.

The weather was warm and sunny, with air temperatures reaching around 30?C. However, some swimmers had complained of strong currents, the Post said.

It is the first death in the race since it was resumed in 2011 after a 30-year break, local media said.

The decades-long hiatus was due to fears over pollution levels in the water.

Although water quality is said to have improved, there are still environmental concerns over the harbor, where rubbish is frequently seen floating in the water.

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