These lovely little creatures are quite common in the ponds of Hong Kong, but it is also a creature with a seriously strong built-in defence mechanism.
Newts are part of the genus Taricha, and these species produce neurotoxins to ward off being eaten by predators. Here you can see the clear warning written all over the belly of this newt.....DONT EAT ME!
The toxin Tetrodoxtoxin, or TTX, is the same neurotoxin that's found in puffer fish, and its reckoned to be hundreds of times more toxic than cyanide. It's strong enough to kill most vertebrates if it's ingested. Most predators will avoid newts, or spit them back out very quickly.
(There are always exceptions......not here in Hong Kong but in the USA the common garter snake is known to feast on newts because it has built up a tolerance for the toxin).
So, to answer the headline question.....can a newt really kill a human? Yes! But only if you swallow it. The proof is in the recorded death of a 29-year-old man who swallowed one in America on a bet in 1979. So leave them alone, and eat your greens.