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Philippines Hostage Crisis Survivors Return to Hong Kong


Survivors of Monday's bungled hostage crisis in the Philippines are home in Hong Kong.

A special Cathay Pacific flight landed after nightfall Wednesday with members of the Hong Kong tour party whose bus was seized by a disgruntled former police officer.

Flag-draped bodies of the victims were also on board. Two people were too seriously injured to take the flight.

In Manila, officials observed a day of mourning for the eight people killed by Roberto Mendoza as a worldwide television audience watched in horror. There were 16 survivors, including nine who were released before the shooting started.

Several senior police officers were placed on leave pending an investigation of the police handling of the crisis.

The Philippine interior minister has admitted the SWAT team that handled the case was inadequately trained and equipped.

Questions are also being raised about the decision to allow Mendoza's brother, also a policeman, to participate in the negotiations.

Reports say Mendoza began shooting his hostages after watching on television from the bus as his brother wrestled with other officers who were trying to disarm him.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino met Tuesday with Chinese Ambassador Liu Jiancho to promise a full investigation. He also spoke by telephone with Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang, who complained of being unable to reach Mr. Aquino during the incident.

Both China and Hong Kong have urged their citizens not to travel to the Philippines, dealing a potential blow to the country's tourism industry.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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