Hong Kong protests: Student dies after fall from car park during tear gas raid

8 November 2019, 15:45 | Updated: 8 November 2019, 17:00

A university student who fell from a multi-storey car park in Hong Kong after police fired tear gas has died.

Chow Tsz-Lok, also called Alex, died on Friday morning after failing to come out of a coma which he fell into after suffering a brain injury in the early hours of Monday.

The 22-year-old Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) student suffered a cardiac arrest and died at 8.09am, a hospital official said.

His death prompted fresh anger as protesters, who claim police tactics contributed to his fall, attended Friday night vigils for Mr Chow, with further rallies planned over the weekend.

Mr Chow fell from the third floor of the car park in Tseung Kwan O in the New Territories onto the second floor during a protest against police violence.

Minutes before he was found in a pool of blood, television footage showed riot police firing tear gas at the building after objects were hurled at officers in the street who were chasing off a group of protesters.

Police did not rule out the possibility he was fleeing from tear gas but said they fired from a distance.

They also denied claims police pushed the victim and prevented an ambulance getting to the injured student for half-an-hour - which protesters have claimed.

The government expressed "great sorrow and regret" over Mr Chow's death and police said they will call for a public inquest.

At the car park where Mr Chow fell, thousands waited in a long line to light candles and place white flowers and paper cranes at the spot where he fell.

Earlier in the day, about 1,000 masked protesters marched through central Hong Kong chanting anti-police slogans, with some shouting "murderers" at police officers.

Mr Chow's death is the first to have happened during the more than five months of anti-government protests.

There have been reports of suicides prompted by the government's inaction and a man fell to his death while hanging pro-democracy banners on a building.

Protesters and police are now used to injuries as the protests have ramped up, but nobody has died due to those injuries.

Leading youth activist Joshua Wong said Mr Chow's death made protesters' demands for an investigation into police conduct more crucial than ever.

"Reforming the Hong Kong police force has become a big demand in the society. Obviously, the Hong Kong police force has to be accountable for Chow's death," he told reporters outside a court.

Mr Chow's colleagues at HKUST staged rallies this week and disrupted a graduation ceremony on Thursday.

University president Wei Shyy paused a graduation ceremony on Friday after hearing of Mr Chow's death, crying as he asked students to stand up and observe a moment of silence.

The protests were first sparked by a bill which would have meant accused criminals could be extradited to mainland China to face trial.

It was formally scrapped on 23 October but Hong Kongers have continued to protest over what they see as Beijing's creeping interference on legal and other rights guaranteed to Hong Kong for 50 years when Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997.