British hiker dies on Hong Kong trail

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The Independent Online
A British hiker found dead on a remote Hong Kong island had built an SOS sign in a desperate attempt to alert rescuers.

Keith Gibbs, a teacher and journalist, had been missing for 10 weeks when police located his body on an isolated hillside on Lantau island.

Rescuers who discovered his body, partially submerged in a stream, revealed that before he died he had constructed the emergency signal from white stones.

Police officers were unable to ascertain the cause of death but believe that the 55-year-old bachelor could have died from exposure, hunger or injury. A post-mortem examination is to be carried out.

Mr Gibbs worked as a journalist for the Glasgow Herald for 15 years before moving to the colony a decade ago to take up a teaching post.

His friend and employer Oliver Davies, who runs the Hong Kong English Club, identified the body."After all this time everybody knew what to expect but it was still a shock when I heard that he had been found," he said.

"He was a very popular English teacher and a very intelligent man who had many friends here in Hong Kong. It is a great shame."

Mr Gibbs was last seen alive on Lantau, where he was on a hiking holiday. When he failed to return on 20 October, friends joined police patrols to search the local walking trails.

He was eventually found by a villager out picking herbs. Police called to the scene used a helicopter to retrieve the body from the island's Pao Kai Shan peak.

Police Inspector Kwong Chileung, who identified Mr Gibbs from his ID card said: "It is a very remote area not on a regular hiking trail."

The officer believes Mr Gibbs may have fallen from a ridge 500 feet above. "The body was by the stream, perhaps he was there for the drinking water. He definitely tried to get help as he had made an SOS sign but tragically no one spotted it", said Insp Chileung.

Last night Mr Gibbs' brother, Steven, was making arrangements to fly from his home in Guernsey to the colony for a cremation service.