HONG KONG - A charter flight brought the bodies of eight victims of a bus hijacking in the Philippines back home to Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Dressed in a black suit and black tie, Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang Ying-yen placed white wreaths on the coffins with relatives of the victims, while two musicians played bagpipes in the background.
Hong Kong has been shaken by the bloody conclusion to Monday's hostage standoff as the Philippines grappled with outrage over its mishandling of the standoff.
"None of us wanted this outcome," President Benigno Aquino III told reporters.
The interior secretary has acknowledged police were ill-prepared and that a series of lapses might have led to the bloodshed on Monday when the hostage-taker, a disgruntled ex-policeman demanding his job back, opened fire on hostages.
Eight of the bus passengers were killed in the standoff and others were wounded. A police sniper eventually killed the hostage-taker.
He had released nine other passengers hours earlier. Seven others were rescued from the bullet-riddled bus, three of them in serious condition.
Yik Siu-ling, a woman who was shot in the jaw and badly injured, was flown back to Hong Kong later on a medical flight.
The condition of Jason Leung, 19, was too serious for him to come home yet. After surgery on a serious head wound, he has to remain in a hospital for at least one more week. His mother, who lost her husband and two daughters in the tragedy, was with her son in the hospital.
While both cities of Manila and Hong Kong are mourning the victims of Monday's hostage, the aftermath of the incident has been unfolding.
Philippines police have been under worldwide severe criticism for mishandling the crisis.
Rodolfo Magtibay, head of Manila's police district, who gave the assault order, requested to temporarily leave his post on Wednesday, saying that he assumes full responsibility.
The move is also meant to pave the way for an impartial investigation over the hostage incident, said a Philippines national police spokesman.
Four leaders of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team were also relieved from their posts to ensure they "did not exert undue influence on the investigation".
The 200 members of the SWAT were also ordered to turn over their weapons for ballistics tests.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang spoke with the Philippines foreign minister and demanded a full account of the Manila hostage tragedy.
The SAR government announced Aug 26 as a day of mourning. Three minutes of silence will be observed at 8 am on Thursday.