A man who allegedly set a fire in an MTR train during peak hours in February has died in hospital before ever making it to trial.

Cheung Kam-fai, 60, died in Prince of Wales Hospital at 5:19am on Sunday, more than three months since he was admitted to the facility. Local media cited “organ failure” as the cause of death.

MTR arson
Cheung was injured in the attack (left). Photo: Video screenshot.

He set himself on fire after allegedly hurling a firebomb in a Tsim Sha Tsui-bound train from Admiralty on Tsuen Wan Line around 7pm on February 10. He was charged with one count of arson two days after the attack that left 19 passengers injured, four of them critically.

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A 15-year-old student surnamed Ko and a 38-year-old Taiwanese tourist were among those who were critically injured. Ko suffered from third-degree burns on her limbs, while the tourist suffered second-degree burns and stayed in a local hospital for two weeks before returning to Taiwan to continue with her treatment.

Except Cheung, all of those injured were since discharged.

injured student
Ko, the injured student.

Cheung was not able to attend court hearings due to his injuries. The authorities have yet to indicate whether they will continue with the investigation or the trial following Cheung’s death.

The government said earlier that the suspect had a history of mental illness and did not show up to his latest appointment to receive treatment.

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The MTR Corporation previously said that the company and its employees would donate at least HK$2 million to the families of those injured.

In response to heightened security concerns following the attack, pro-Beijing lawmaker Michael Tien proposed installing security cameras on trains and conducting random security checks on passengers. An investigation report compiled by eight experts and released last month advised against conducting security checks as a solution. It also said that having a security camera on the train would not have affected the outcome of the attack.

The MTR Corporation also banned the sale of lighters in convenience stores inside its stations since March 1.

Correction 13:30: A previous version of this piece wrongly stated that the attack occurred on an Admiralty-bound train. In fact, the train was bound for Tsim Sha Tsui.

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Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.