HONG KONG (AFP) - – Hong Kong may launch an official inquiry into the Manila bus hijacking after the city's coroner ordered autopsies for all eight victims of the bloody standoff, its security chief said Thursday.
Ambrose Lee said post-mortem examinations were ordered amid questions over whether the slain Hong Kong tourists were killed by bullets fired by the hostage-taker or police during their bungled rescue operation on Monday.
"The coroner ordered that an autopsy be done -- we'll have our own autopsies," Hong Kong's secretary for security told lawmakers at a specially convened meeting.
"The coroner will then decide whether a death inquiry will be held."
Autopsies conducted in the Philippines on five of the victims showed they died from gunshots mostly to the head and neck, while Philippine police carried out ballistic tests to determine if commandos fired any of the fatal bullets.
Hong Kong lawmakers Thursday debated a proposed motion demanding that the Philippine government apologise and pay compensation to the victims' families, amid fury in the southern Chinese city at the way the crisis was handled.
Earlier, Lee said: "We will urge the Philippine authorities to conduct a thorough, just and transparent investigation and we want the report to be ready as soon as possible".
Reports said a high-level Filipino delegation would brief the Chinese government on Thursday before heading to Hong Kong, but officials in Beijing, Manila and Hong Kong said the timing of the visit was yet to be determined.
Hong Kong observed a mournful silence Thursday morning, after the victims' bodies were returned home.
The city held three minutes of silence with flags lowered to half-mast at a special ceremony overseen by chief executive Donald Tsang and a large crowd of black-clad people on the harbour waterfront.
A tearful woman at the ceremony said she wanted to take care of two children aged 15 and 12 whose parents were killed in the day-long hostage siege after an ex-policeman boarded their tourist bus.
"My heart hurts. I hope the pain they feel will fade soon. I am willing to be the mother of the two orphans," the woman, who did not identify herself, told the Cable News broadcaster.
Hong Kong leader Tsang said: "We can't help but ask why human nature is so ugly? In the eyes of the gunman, apart from his personal interests, had he thought about others?"
Staff from travel agency Hong Thai lowered their heads to mourn Masa Tse, the 31-year-old tour guide who was praised for alerting his Hong Kong office to the hijacking by cellphone from the back of the tour bus. Related article:Bus blunders latest black mark against Philippine police
Emotions are running high in Hong Kong over blunders by Philippine police in the chaotic climax to Monday's events, when the disgraced former policeman held a group of Hong Kong tourists hostage for 12 hours.
The victims were aged from 14 to 58.
Internet sites such as Facebook are awash with public anger against the Philippine authorities.
There are as many as 200,000 Filipinos living in Hong Kong, the vast majority of them working as maids, and union leaders have reported reprisals against the community by Hong Kong employers incensed at the hijacking.
The bodies of the eight killed -- including Ken Leung and his two daughters -- were on Wednesday night flown back to Hong Kong, with bagpipers playing "Amazing Grace" at a poignant airport ceremony.
Leung's wife Amy Ng stayed behind as their 18-year-old son Jason fights for his life in intensive care with serious head injuries. Both returned to Hong Kong on a medical charter flight Thursday evening, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The tragedy unfolded live on television, allowing viewers around the world to watch as ill-prepared police commandos failed in attempts to storm the bus before the tourists, and the gunman, died in a hail of bullets.
Philippine authorities have suspended four police officers and one is on leave as an investigation proceeds into key mistakes made in the protracted standoff.
Reposted From AFP