I think we all wandered if the starting guns used in track races are "real" guns.
My best wishes to the injured teacher, I saw his pic on the papers and he is not really in good conditions.
From now on, take care if you have to do the starter at the school race...
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has suspended the use of starting guns at its sports venues after one of them went off accidentally and injured a teacher at an athletics meeting in Wan Chai yesterday.
Ho Koon-lam, 24, a Chinese-language teacher at Heep Yunn School, took the handgun from a colleague before the start of the 4x400 relay in the school's sports day at Wan Chai Sports Ground. The accident occurred at 11.45am. He was checking the gun to see if there were enough blank cartridges in it before the race started, the headmaster, Lee Chun-hung, said.
"Suddenly, there was the sound of gunfire. We saw him covering his eyes with his hands. There was blood on his face," he said.
A police source said the victim was taking a close look at the gun before the accident. "An initial investigation showed that the gun went off accidentally and sparks flew and hit his eyes," the source said.
The teacher was not wearing protective goggles at the time of the accident, the department said. Eye protection is provided by the venue.
Police have taken the starting gun and more than 20 blank cartridges to the force's Forensic Firearms Examination Bureau.
Mr Ho, who has worked at the school for about three years, was taken to Ruttonjee Hospital and later transferred to Eastern Hospital. He was in a stable condition last night.
After the incident, the school used an air-horn in the remaining three races.
Chief Inspector Leung Sai-kau, of Wan Chai police, said an investigation found nothing suspicious. He added the injured man had a permit allowing him to use a starting gun.
After the accident, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department decided to stop the use of starting guns at its sports venues.
"For sake of precaution, we have stopped using starting guns while the police complete the investigation over the incident," a spokeswoman said. Air-horns would be available.
She added that pistols were maintained regularly by a contractor. There were safety guidelines over the use of starting guns and staff members were required to show people how to use them.
Starting guns are converted revolvers and can be loaded with five blank cartridges.
The cartridges contain gunpowder but no bullet.
A police spokeswoman said starters had to apply for a temporary permit from the police under the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance before being allowed to use the guns.