Yuen Yuen Institute, a Taoist temple in Tsuen Wan, New Territories. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Ahleong

A 59-year-old woman was rescued after a suspected suicide attempt by jumping into a joss-paper furnace at a Taoist temple in Hong Kong’s New Territories on Sunday.

At 10am, police received a report that a woman had climbed over a waist-high fence and fallen into a 2.5-meter-high furnace at the Yuen Yuen Institute in Tsuen Wan used for the ceremonial burning of joss papers to pay tribute to ancestors, Apple Daily reported.

Firefighters arrived in four minutes. Four of them entered the furnace to rescue the woman while other firemen hosed it down to lower its temperature.

The woman was unconscious when rescued and was sent to Princess Margaret Hospital.

Police assistant district commander Harbour Chan said the woman, a retiree, had come to the temple alone and did not bring any offerings with her, Radio Television Hong Kong reported, adding that she had been suffering from emotional problems.

Three firemen who entered the furnace to rescue the woman suffered burns on their feet, Sing Tao Daily reported. They were all sent to hospital. One of them suffered second-degree burns to 7% of his thighs and lower legs, and was in stable condition, while the other two were discharged.

The Samaritans run a 24-hour multilingual suicide-prevention hotline +852 2896 0000, or e-mails can be sent to jo@samaritans.org.hk.