Hong Kong has cancelled the annual Chinese New Year fireworks display, Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters on Monday, as the city mourns 19 people killed in a tragic double-decker bus crash over the weekend.

Dozens were injured as the KMB bus toppled over during the accident in Tai Po. Flags will fly at half-mast on Tuesday, Lam told reporters at a press conference.

2018 chinese new year fireworks
An artist’s rendering of this year’s proposed Year of the Dog fireworks display. Photo: GovHK.

Major officials of the government and members of the Executive Council will observe a moment of mourning before their regular meeting on Tuesday morning. Other departments have also been notified that they can make arrangements do so at around 10am.

“All sectors of society have expressed their sorrow and concern. Some members of the public have… responded to the Hong Kong Red Cross’ call to donate blood at their branches across districts, and – yesterday – over 2,000 [did so at] blood donation centres,” Lam said, adding that she felt proud of Hong Kong people.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Lam also said that lawmakers across different parties have proposed or asked her to consider cancelling the fireworks display during Chinese New Year. “I can hear and feel that this proposal has received the widespread approval of the public.”

The multi-million dollar festive display – involving 29,000 pyrotechnic shells – was set to usher in the Year of the Dog on Saturday.

Lam said the government has received the understanding and support of the event’s sponsor – Chevalier International Holdings Limited – which told her that the expenses saved will be donated to the victims’ families. The amount will be no less than HK$1 million.

tai po bus crash kmb
Photo: InMedia.

The annual Victoria Harbour fireworks event was also cancelled in 2013, a year after the Lamma Island ferry disaster claimed the lives of 39 people. It is organised by the Home Affairs bureau.

Additional reporting: Karen Cheung.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.