SCMP Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Homeowners blamed for falling-concrete accident


An accident on Sunday that left three people injured after chunks of concrete fell from a 23-storey Causeway Bay building could have been avoided, the chairman of the owners' corporation for the building said yesterday.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Mansion owners' corporation Daniel To Yau-on said the corporation had proposed major repairs a year ago but strong opposition from several households had caused a delay.
The proposal was finally approved six months ago and major repairs, costing several million dollars, were scheduled to begin in a few months.
"Sunday's incident might have been avoided if we could have started the repairs earlier," Mr To said.
A young mother, her 10-year-old daughter and another woman were injured on Sunday when cement fell from the building in Yee Wo Street.
The mother, 28, who suffered hand injuries, was discharged from Queen Mary Hospital yesterday. Her daughter and an Indonesian woman, 31, had been allowed to leave on Sunday night after treatment.
Mr To said the last major repairs were carried out 14 years ago after a pipe fell and hit someone, causing serious injury. But small-scale maintenance is carried out on the 34-year-old building almost every month, he said.
A spokeswoman for the Buildings Department said yesterday the cement fell from the external wall on the 14th floor but added it was not related to illegal structures on the building. She claimed the building did not pose an immediate danger.
A section of Yee Wo Street has been closed for emergency repairs.
Mr To also complained that the building had dozens of unauthorised structures such as canopies, iron cages and flower racks but most owners simply ignored repeated warnings from the corporation.
"As an owners' corporation, we do not have the legal power to order removal. What we can do is to issue advisory letters and wait for the Buildings Department to take action," Mr To said.
The department said it would follow up the case today.
Two similar incidents occurred yesterday.
Several small pieces of cement fell from the 10th floor of Tak Lok House, Tak Tin Estate, at 5pm, while concrete fell from an old building in To Kwa Wan. Cracks were found between the second and third floors. No one was injured.