Hong Kong: Philippine authorities sent the bodies of three of the victims in the Manila bus hijacking to the wrong families, Hong Kong said on Thursday, in the latest of a series of missteps in the handling of the crisis.
The eight bodies were shipped back last Wednesday to Hong Kong, where tearful relatives laid wreaths on the coffins of their loved ones at the airport as officials stood in attention, but three families were paying their respects to the wrong bodies.
The three families discovered the mistake when they opened the coffins at the morgue later that night, Hong Kong`s Security Bureau said in a statement.
The families had identified the bodies in Manila, so it is possible that funeral parlour workers in the Philippines mislabelled them, the statement said.
The Security Bureau didn`t identify which victims were mixed up.
Philippine Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said she would investigate, adding, "If there was a mix-up of those names, we apologise, "It was really the desire to facilitate and bring the bodies to Hong Kong as quickly as possible because that will ease the pain of the families," she said.
This wealthy southern Chinese financial hub already has simmered with anger over the deaths. Hong Kongers have been outraged that Philippine police bungled negotiations with the hostage-taker, a former police officer seeking reinstatement, as well as the rescue operation.
Locals have denounced Philippine President Benigno Aquino III as "scum" in heated online messages.
Hong Kong`s Legislative Council was to discuss the tragedy in a special meeting later Today and vote on a resolution declaring that the rescue operation suffered from "serious failures”.
The backlash has also extended to mainland China. Thousands of Chinese tourists have cancelled their flight and hotel bookings and two of three Chinese recipients of a prestigious prize named after a former Philippine president skipped the awards ceremony on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, there is the sense in the Philippines that the country has already shown enough remorse and shouldn`t be reduced to self-flagellation.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer said in an editorial that the country has already asked for forgiveness and wants a proper investigation as well.
"We are in solidarity with the women and men who offer prayers, flowers and lighted candles ... but we see no point in prostrating ourselves further, or in insulting the Philippine government as though in a continuing kowtow," the newspaper wrote.