View Full Version : Ma Tau Wai Road Building Collapse (馬頭圍道大廈倒塌)
January 29th, 2010, 09:55 AM
Walkup building in Hung Hom collapses
(1 hr 49 mins ago)
A six-storey walkup in 45, Ma Tau Wai Road in Hung Hom crumbled at about 1.30pm. It is not clear if the entire building or only part of it collapsed.
One woman died, two were injured and four are missing.
A nearby shop owner said she heard a loud sound and when she went out to look, she saw the building had disappeared in a cloud of dust. She said the ground floor of the building had been undergoing renovations.
Buildings close to the walkup are being evacuated.
January 29th, 2010, 10:04 AM
So they took out a key supporting column during the ground floor renovations?
January 29th, 2010, 10:18 AM
下午 1時許，紅磡馬頭圍道 45號一座至少 4層高的唐樓，突然全座下塌，塌下的石屎散滿行人路，甚至跌至對出馬路的行車線，沙塵籠罩四周。
2010年01月29日 (03:02 pm)
紅磡馬頭圍道 45號一座至少 4層高的唐樓，下午 1時許，突然全座倒塌，塌下的石屎散滿行人路，甚至跌至對出馬路的行車線，沙塵籠罩四周，現場消息指，一名女子獲救後，已沒有呼吸脈搏，獲送院搶救，消息指仍然有人被困。
下午 3時 18分，特首曾蔭權到達馬頭圍道的唐樓下塌現場視察，消防員隨即上前向曾講述情況，隨行者包括發展局局長林鄭月娥。
救護車亦已到場戒備，警方已將附近馬路封鎖。事發下午 1時許，馬頭圍道 45號一座至少 4層高的唐樓，突然全座下塌，現場消息指有人被困。
紅磡馬頭圍道 45號一座唐樓，於下午 1時突然全座倒塌，目前已有 3人獲救，其中，一名女子救出時相信已沒有呼吸脈搏，另外一男一女住客則無大礙。由於現場有消息指仍然有人被困，故消防員不敢以大型挖掘機進行挖掘。
政府發言人表示，下午 1時 43分，警方接獲一名乘搭巴士的市民報警，指紅磡馬頭維道 45號唐樓的一樓，有一名女子在呼救，不足 2秒後全幢唐樓即下塌。
救援人員於現場救出五名年齡介乎 30至 79歲的人士，包括 3名男子及 2名女子，其中 1名女子證實死亡，當局仍在調查肇事原因。
2010年01月29日 (04:20 pm)
紅磡馬頭圍道 45號一座唐樓，於下午 1時突然全座倒塌，消防發言人表示，已救出 3男 2女，其中 1名年約 40歲的女子，送院後證實死亡，目前仍然有 4人失蹤。
2010年01月29日 (03:56 pm)
紅磡馬頭圍道 45號一座唐樓，下午 1時許突然全幢倒塌，消防先後救出 3男 2女（年齡介乎 30歲至 79歲），當中 1名從瓦礫堆中被救出的女子（年約 40歲），經送往伊利沙伯醫院搶救後，終告不治。消防正繼續在現場搜索是否尚有其他人被困。
January 29th, 2010, 10:49 AM
January 29th, 2010, 11:02 AM
January 29th, 2010, 11:15 AM
January 29th, 2010, 12:56 PM
警 方 交 代 塌 樓 經 過 片 段
目 擊 者 稱 事 發 時 聽 到 巨 響
January 29th, 2010, 04:16 PM
January 29th, 2010, 04:25 PM
This is ironic...
January 29th, 2010, 05:01 PM
TVB News (11pm)
January 29th, 2010, 07:14 PM
Wow. Has something like this ever happened before in HK?
If it was the construction workers who caused this building to collapse, they should definitely be charged with criminal negligence and face stiff jail sentences.
It is very fortunate that this was a low rise building and not 20, 30 or 40+ storeys.
January 29th, 2010, 11:43 PM
I saw this comment on youtube......
January 30th, 2010, 02:56 AM
This accident is just outrageous... so sad.
January 30th, 2010, 06:18 AM
January 30th, 2010, 12:18 PM
Heard that some retards took out a structural element... :bash:
January 30th, 2010, 08:16 PM
Heard that some retards took out a structural element... :bash:
sadly, i would imagine that's what happened caused the tragedy...
January 30th, 2010, 08:41 PM
January 30th, 2010, 08:50 PM
Some footage of it collapsing
February 1st, 2010, 04:24 AM
February 1st, 2010, 05:30 AM
I am really glad that the firemen did not arrive 10 secs earlier..
February 2nd, 2010, 03:48 AM
There's cracks appearing on the adjacent buildings indicating that they may all collapse like dominos.
February 4th, 2010, 05:55 AM
I suppose this is a wake up call for the various departments, BD, ASD, etc etc
to actually do somethin rather than wait... and the processing times in these departments are way too slow..
Main reason for this tragedy is money and lack of provision from the government.
Say you are the owner of a whole floor with 4 Units. The rent you earn will be much less than say 12 individual smaller suites. Hence all the shear walls were taken out. floors gutted and rewalled illegally.
so its money money money
February 4th, 2010, 07:16 AM
I think the landlords bear the primary responsibility for maintaining their units. But the government departments need to work together to enforce building safety rules and embark on more drastic measures to even re-possess the land if the minimum safety requirements are not met for prolonged periods.
Tenants need more access to cheap legal advice to sue landlords who don't provide the basics like upkeep.
February 11th, 2010, 10:13 PM
This is such a sad thing to happen and it may call into question building standards in hong kong. I hope the adjacent buildings don't go the same way!!!!!!
February 12th, 2010, 04:19 AM
I suspect this has little to do with building standards, but just some stupid contractors knocked out a major support column and down went the rest.
February 24th, 2010, 04:47 PM
URA commences Ma Tau Wai redevelopment project with special measures
The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Wednesday) announced the commencement of a redevelopment project involving two rows of 50-year-old-plus tenement buildings at a site in To Kwa Wan where a block collapsed on 29 January 2010, as well as adoption of special measures for this special project in view of the unique circumstances, the residents’ sub-standard living conditions and their psychological burden after the accident.
The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, the Chairman of the URA, Mr Barry Cheung, and Managing Director of URA, Mr Quinn Law, outlined the development plan and the special measures at a media briefing this afternoon following the announcement by the Financial Secretary (FS) at the annual Budget Speech that approval has been given to URA to include the project in its annual business plan for the current financial year and its implementation under the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (URAO). They emphasised that the special arrangements and measures are adopted due to its exceptional circumstances. These special arrangements do not apply to URA’s current projects and should not set a precedent for its future projects.
The implementation of the project was published in the Gazette right after the FS announcement.
Speaking at the media session, Mr Cheung said the Authority undertook the project after careful consideration of the building conditions, the residents’ living condition and the special circumstances following the recent building collapse tragedy.
“We are sympathetic with the residents who are unduly affected by the tragic building collapse incident and have been in close discussions with the Government with a view to having URA involved in helping the residents in the affected buildings and in the immediate vicinity,” said Mr Cheung.
“We are prepared to adopt special arrangements and measures, on an exceptional basis, to help these residents in advance of planning approval of the project and issuance of offers for acquisition of the property interests.” Mr Cheung emphasised that special measures are taken in view of the unique circumstances and residents’ psychological concern about the safety of their premises.
The URA’s special arrangements for this unique project are valid for one month from the date of freezing survey. Concerned owners and tenants have to make known their request to the URA within the one-month period. Details of the special arrangements are as follows:
Domestic Owners-occupiers – if there is no objection against the project, URA can make its general acquisition offer tentatively by end of May 2010. If an owner-occupier indicates to URA that he elects to leave before URA’s issuance of general acquisition offer, URA will be willing to acquire his property at an estimated market value with a 30% deposit. When the general offer is made to all owners after planning approval, an owner-occupier will be paid the difference between the compensation based on 7-year notional flat price and the purchase price which he has already received.
Domestic tenants – if a tenant elects to leave immediately, URA will provide cash compensation or rehousing if he is eligible. If the landlord so requests and URA so agrees, URA will pay the rent on behalf of the tenant, up to the natural expiration of the tenancy agreement or up to the date of his landlord’s acceptance of acquisition offer, whichever is earlier.
Non domestic owner-occupiers – if an owner-occupier elects to cease business and leave before receipt of URA’s general acquisition offer tentatively scheduled in May 2010, URA is willing to acquire his property at an estimated market value with a deposit of 30%. After the obtaining of planning approval, the then estimated market value will be re-assessed at the time of the general offer and the owner will be paid the difference between 135% of the re-assessed market value (if adjusted) and the purchase price he has already received.
Non-domestic tenants – if a tenant confirms to leave immediately, URA will pay a special business allowance to him, which is equivalent to 0.5 Ratable Value (RV) of his tenanted unit.
While the Expression of Interest to Purchase Arrangement (EIPA) will be offered to eligible domestic owner-occupiers who wish to come back upon completion of the new development, non-domestic tenants and non-domestic owner-occupiers on the ground floors will be offered an opportunity to lease the commercial spaces in the new development at prevailing market rents.
“We plan to provide smaller flats to the mass housing market. Over 400 residential units with an average flat size of less than 50 square metres will be built. We also do not rule out the possibility to develop the project ourselves this time,” said Mr Cheung.
Other special features of this project include re-creation of the existing retail street frontage along Ma Tau Wai Road and Hok Yuen Street by low-rise retail structure, provision of about 1,000 square metres for Government, Institution and Community (GIC) facilities use and around 500 square metres at grade open space/ amenity areas which would help improve streetscape and air ventilation.
“To enhance the awareness of owners on the importance of building management and regular maintenance, we consider providing a major resource centre in the new development,” he said.
Covering an area of about 3,377 square metres, the project area is bounded by Ma Tau Wai Road, Hok Yuen Street and Chun Tin Street. The buildings within the project area were built between 1955 and 1957, ranging between 4 to 6 storeys in height.
Some 540 households and 35 shops are likely to be affected by the redevelopment project, involving about 159 property interests.
The unfortunate building collapse incident has heightened the need for regular and proper building maintenance in Hong Kong and triggered redevelopment of this project which, if implemented, could help improve the living environment of residents concerned and generate planning gains, Mr Cheung added.
The acquisition/rehousing cost for the project is estimated at around $1,447 million. A deficit of some $700 million, exclusive of overhead expenditure, will be incurred.
About 130 URA staff members were deployed to conduct the freezing survey to ascertain the actual number of households and the occupancy status. “We will arrange a series of briefing sessions shortly to explain to the affected owners and tenants the special arrangements for this project,” Mr Cheung added.
An urban renewal social service team commissioned by the URA and staffed by professional social workers of The Salvation Army will provide counselling and practical assistance that the residents may need. The contact number of the social service team is 3188- 2104. Affected residents can also visit the URA’s Ma Tau Wai Neighbourhood Centre, Shop A, Ground Floor, 426-430 Ma Tau Wai Road, Kowloon in person or call the URA’s Hotline at 2588-2333 for enquiries.
The project will be implemented by way of a development project under section 26 of the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (URAO). It will be submitted by the URA under section 24(3) of the URAO to the Secretary for Development for consideration.
In accordance with section 23(3) of the URAO, a description of the general nature and effects of the project and a plan delineating the project boundaries are available for public inspection for a period of two months from today during normal office hours at :-
the URA Headquarters at 10/F, Low Block, Grand Millennium Plaza, 181 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong (Monday to Friday 8:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.);
the URA’s Ma Tau Wai Neighbourhood Centre, Shop A, G/F, 426-430 Ma Tau Wai Road, Kowloon (Monday to Friday 8:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.);
the Public Enquiry Service Centre of the Kowloon City District Office, Room 1707, 17/F, One Harbourfront, 18-22 Tak Fung Street, Hung Hom, Kowloon (Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.); and
the Public Enquiry Service Centre of the To Kwa Wan Sub-office, Kowloon City District Office, Shops 2 and 3, Ground Floor, Jubilant Place, 33 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon (Monday to Friday 8:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.).
Such information is also available on the URA website at http://www.ura.org.hk.
Under section 24(1) of the URAO, any person who considers that he will be affected by the project and who wishes to object to the implementation of the development project may send a written statement of his objections to the URA at 10/F, Low Block, Grand Millennium Plaza, 181 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong not later than 24 April 2010.
March 18th, 2010, 05:25 PM
Residents in Hung Hom fear building collapse similar to To Kwa Wan tragedy
16 March 2010
South China Morning Post
Residents of rundown blocks in Hung Hom fear they will suffer the same fate as the building that collapsed in nearby To Kwa Wan, leaving four dead.
They are worried that maintenance work has not been carried out despite the Buildings Department warning the owners of the flats.
Kowloon City district councillor Pius Yum Kwok-tung said that since the five-storey tenement in Ma Tau Wai Road was reduced to rubble on January 29, his phone had been ringing almost non-stop.
"We cannot afford to have another tragedy like this. But then it is shocking to learn that the Buildings Department has failed to look into the problem while it understands the full extent of it," Yum said.
He said many residents in Hung Hom reported structural safety problems to the department and in some cases maintenance orders had been issued, but few repair works had been done.
"Take a 52-year-old building in Gillies Avenue South as an example. A ground-floor premises was abandoned for more than 10 years. Peeling concrete and exposed steel reinforcing rods can be seen, though the Buildings Department issued the owner with an order to fix the problems in June 2008," Yum said.
The owner turned a blind eye. While others carried out maintenance recently, the owner of ground floor premises refused to fix his property. "The owner of a flat above it [the ground floor flat] moved out years ago as his floor tilted to one side and he fears the place will collapse," Yum said.
A building in Station Lane has the same problem. The Buildings Department told the owner of a ground-floor unit in June 2008 to fix problems caused by the removal of slabs and beams and the construction of a cockloft, or cubicle.
"But nothing has been mended. What is more, many flats in 50-year-old buildings have been subdivided and balconies enclosed."
Such alterations can add to the load of the building and affect safety. Similar unapproved changes had been done to the building that collapsed in Ma Tau Wai Road.
Yum said cracks and peeling concrete could be seen on the staircase of a 45-year-old building in Wuhu Street, and residents had complained many times. "I also wrote to the department recently but they simply replied they knew of the problem and would follow up," he said.
There are 3,900 buildings in Hong Kong that are more than 50 years old.
The Buildings Department said officials were following up the cases.
"For the case in Gillies Avenue, the department will prosecute the owner and we are also preparing to issue maintenance orders to owners in Wuhu Street," a department spokesman said, adding that all the buildings involved were structurally safe.
April 17th, 2010, 07:10 AM
April 25th, 2010, 05:21 AM
LCQ2: Building safety and urban redevelopment plans
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Government Press Release
Following is a question by Dr Hon Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 21):
Regarding the accident which happened on January 29 this year in Ma Tau Wai Road in which an entire old building which was over 50 years old collapsed and the plan to redevelop old districts, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it is the current practice of the Buildings Department to inspect the exterior conditions of buildings by "naked eyes" only, and whether staff of the Department will enter the premises for a detailed inspection; after the aforesaid tragic collapse of the building, whether the authorities have assessed if the current inspection practice will give rise to an "oversight" situation;
(b) apart from the redevelopment projects which had not been completed by the then Land Development Corporation, of the number of redevelopment projects in old districts which have been implemented by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) since its establishment in 2001, together with a list of the respective amounts of profit made and loss incurred by these redevelopment projects; and
(c) after the tragic collapse of the building in Ma Tau Wai Road, whether the authorities have assessed if its previous injection of $10 billion into URA is sufficient to support the speeding up of urban redevelopment plans; if they have, whether the authorities have planned to inject additional capital into URA or change URA's mode of operation from self-financing to receiving subsidy from the Government by annual allocation, so as to increase the pace of redevelopment?
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) Visual inspection is basically the first step adopted by the professional staff of the Buildings Department (BD) when inspecting buildings to ascertain their structural safety, and the inspection mainly covers the common areas and external walls of buildings. If the assessment result of the visual inspection reveals that there is such a need, the professional staff of BD will carry out further inspections according to circumstances and will enter individual premises to conduct detailed inspections and examination. The reasons for adopting this approach are as follows:
(i) For the interior of individual premises, if the conditions of the structural elements have deteriorated due to certain reasons or there are unauthorised structural alterations which lead to overall structural stability problems, evident defects will usually also appear in the adjoining premises or the premises above or below, as well as in the common areas or even on the external walls of the building. The BD staff are experienced professionals who can competently identify evident defects in the common areas and on the external walls, including defects extending from individual premises to the exteriors when carrying out visual inspections and will take corresponding action which includes entering individual premises to carry out further inspections or issuing investigation orders to the owners concerned; and
(ii) Since external walls are constantly exposed to erosion by wind and rain and it is more difficult to repair and maintain them, their rate of deterioration is faster than that of the interior of a building. Generally speaking, owners are also more concerned about the repair and maintenance of their own premises the conditions of which are therefore usually much better than those of the common areas and the external walls of the building.
We consider that the approach of building inspection to ascertain structural safety adopted by BD as set out above has been effective and appropriate. The BD will also review its operation from time to time to continue enhancing the various measures it has adopted to improve building safety.
(b) Since its establishment in 2001, apart from taking over the implementation of 10 redevelopment projects commenced by the former Land Development Corporation (LDC), the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has directly, or through collaboration with the Hong Kong Housing Society, commenced another 38 redevelopment projects, of which 25 were announced by the former LDC in 1998 but yet to be commenced. In accordance with the Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) promulgated in 2001, the URA should give priority to the implementation of these 25 projects.
The overall financial position of the URA is published in the URA's Annual Report and Audited Accounts. So far, the URA has not disclosed the profit/loss position of its individual redevelopment projects. In order to enhance the transparency of the URA's work, we plan to publish the surpluses/deficits of completed projects of the URA when submitting its annual work progress to the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council in June this year.
(c) The estimated acquisition/rehousing cost for the URA's Ma Tau Wai redevelopment project is estimated at around $1,447 million. It is expected that a deficit of some $700 million will be incurred. Nonetheless, the URA's financial position remains healthy. According to information provided by the URA, as at March 31, 2010, its unaudited net asset value exceeds the $10 billion injected by the Government.
In July 2008, the Government launched a two-year review on the URS. The review is now at its third stage, namely, the "Consensus Building" stage, which is expected to be completed in mid-2010. We will report findings to the Panel on Development then. The overall financing arrangements for the URA, including the objective of a self-financing urban renewal programme in the long run, is also covered in the review.
January 21st, 2011, 03:33 AM
Collapsed-building contractor faces charges
21 January 2011
South China Morning Post
The Buildings Department will prosecute the renovation contractor involved in the fatal collapse of a tenement in To Kwa Wan last year.
A summons was served on the contractor, whose workers were working in the ground-floor shop of Block J at 45 Ma Tau Wai Road seconds before the block collapsed, killing four people and leaving a pile of rubble.
The charge was laid against the contractor under a section of the Buildings Ordinance, which covers work that causes injury or damage to property. The maximum penalty is HK$1 million and three years' imprisonment.
A Buildings Department spokeswoman said the Department of Justice decided to prosecute after studying forensic results and witness statements. She declined to say whether the contractor was a company or individuals.
The hearing will be at Kowloon City Court on February 16.
Meanwhile, police are still investigating the incident, looking at the roles of both the building owner and the contractor. No one has been arrested.
Pius Yum Kwok-tung, a Kowloon City district councillor who has been in contact with the family of one of the victims, said there was concern about whether the contractor would be the only one held responsible.
"The full investigation report has remained unavailable to the public," he said. "The government should tell us whether anyone else other than the property owner will face prosecution, as this will also affect the family's civil claims."
The building owner, a woman named Chak Oi-luen, has neither been seen in public nor heard from since the collapse, except for a magazine report in which a woman who claimed to be Chak said she wanted to apologise to the victims.
Earlier, the government said the Coroner's Court would conduct a hearing after all prosecutions were brought.
Investigators found that renovation work had damaged a structurally important column, and two others.
August 9th, 2011, 07:20 PM
August 10th, 2011, 03:48 AM
Danger signs `ignored' at death flats
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The managers of a Ma Tau Wai tenement that collapsed were warned as early as six months before that the building was structurally unsafe, but no repairs were done until it was essentially too late, a coroner's inquest heard yesterday.
Testifying on the second day of the inquest into the deaths of four tenants, maintenance contractor Chu Wai-wing said he knew as early as mid-2009 the five-story building at Block J, 45 Ma Tau Wai Road, Hung Hom, was in danger of crumbling.
Chu told coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu he relayed his fears to an accountancy firm that managed the building on behalf of landlady Chak Oi-luen and recommended urgent repairs.
"I repeatedly told [the staff] that the building was sinking slowly into the ground. It was in a dangerous condition and could collapse at any time," Chu said.
But repair work, including the removal of illegal canopies and signboards, did not start until three days before the building collapsed on January 29, 2010, the inquest heard.
Autopsy reports showed the four victims sustained abrasions and bruises all over their bodies.
Other tenants told Chan how they escaped death after being alerted by signs of imminent danger on the fateful day. Chan Ho-yin, 43, recalled that after he discovered the ceiling of his apartment on the fourth floor had tilted, he went downstairs to find out what happened.
Stunned by spilling concrete on the ground floor, he immediately returned to his unit and yelled at his girlfriend to flee the residential block, which collapsed about two minutes after they rushed out.
Pang Kung-nok, 26, said he and his fifth- floor neighbor, Tong Tor-choi, 63, were rescued from the rubble an hour later.
Other witnesses, including Buildings Department officials, will testify at the inquest, which continues today.
August 11th, 2011, 03:54 AM
Expert tells of death flats failure
Thursday, August 11, 2011
A government building surveyor, who inspected a Hung Hom tenement two months before it collapsed killing four people, admitted he underestimated the "potential dangers."
Wan Chi-wai said he gave the landlady four months to carry out reinforcement work.
Wan was speaking on the third day of the inquest into the collapse of Block J, 45 Ma Tau Wai Road, on January 29, last year.
He told yesterday how he had inspected the building on November 18, 2009, two days after receiving a complaint from landlady Chak Oi-luen about potential structural risks.
The 17-year surveying veteran said he checked the ground-floor shop, external walls and ladders where he found peeled-off concrete layers and corroded steel beams in structural columns.
While some steel bars were bent by "external force that would pose potential danger to the structure" and reduce its ability to sustain weight, there was no immediate danger.
"When you carry out an inspection, many signs can show whether a building is about to collapse. Numerous signs enabled me to determine what to do next," Wan told Coroner Michael Chan Pik- kiu. But instead of issuing a closure order banning tenants from their apartments for a period of time for safety concerns, Wan instructed Chak to hire contractors to carry out long-overdue maintenance work, under the supervision of a registered structural engineer.
However, there was no remedial work, even after the issuance of an advisory letter following the inspection, and an order in mid-January - about two weeks before the collapse - demanding the owner remove an illegal structure and have the building reinforced.
Chak earlier told the inquest she telephoned the department up to 150 times for help. Wan disputed this, testifying he only talked to the landlady three times over the phone about her complaints.
Candy Wong Yuen-man, another government surveyor, who succeeded Wan after he left at the end of 2009, said she did a quick 10-minute inspection at the site two weeks before the tragedy - also thinking there was no imminent danger.
Wong dismissed accusations by residents that they were not informed about the potential risk, saying she posted the building order at the only entrance of the tenement.
The inquest continues today, with more Buildings Department officials and independent experts due to testify.
August 12th, 2011, 05:06 PM
Contractor blamed on flats tragedy
Friday, August 12, 2011
A senior structural engineer told a coroner's court that an unlicensed contractor should be held responsible for the collapse of a building that killed four people.
Testifying on the fourth day of the inquest into the tragedy at of Block J, 45 Ma Tau Wai Road, Hung Hom, Buildings Department engineer Chung Kam-yin said he reached this conclusion after inspecting the rubble and studying the testimony of 75-year-old contractor Chu Wai-wing.
Chung said the contractor and his workers had inappropriately used an electric saw to remove an illegal structure.
This was a H-shaped iron bar, attached to one of the structural columns inside a ground- floor shop. The method to remove the iron bar destabilized the "seriously corroded" column and redirected the force to two neighboring structural columns, he said.
"It triggered a chain reaction and caused the two columns supporting the block to collapse one after the other. It eventually brought down the entire block," Chung said.
The veteran structural engineer said although the design of the five-story block, constructed in the early 1950s, was unsatisfactory, the extra weight exerted by the subdivided flats above or illegal structures, including canopies and signboards, alone would not have caused the entire block to crumble.
He concluded that Chu was the person to blame for the collapse on January 29 last year, saying he should have supported the columns before doing reinforcement work.
The job of removing the H-shaped iron bar was completed shortly before the building gave way, Chu earlier testified, but insisted that he and his workers did not even "touch" the deformed structural columns on that fateful day.
Coroner Michael Chan Pik-qiu said he will analyze the testimonies carefully while accepting the expert witness' interest in defending the government.
The hearing continues today with an independent structural engineer due to testify.
August 16th, 2011, 06:11 PM
Manslaughter verdict urged in flats collapse
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The families of the four killed in a Ma Tau Wai tenement building collapse in January last year have urged the coroner's court to return a verdict of "unlawful killing" or "manslaughter."
After a week of hearings and testimony from 30 witnesses, Coroner Michael Chan Pik-qiu will likely announce his verdict today.
In their final submissions yesterday, relatives of the dead condemned Buildings Department surveyors, a landlady and a principal tenant for negligence and wanted them held responsible.
Li Zhenhua, 53, who lost her 20-year-old son Hung Hing-to, broke into tears as she started reading her submission. Her daughter completed the reading.
"Why did my son lose his life at home?" Li asked. "[The surveyors] said they found no immediate danger but they were proven wrong. Their inspection was even worse than that of the unlicensed contractor."
She also condemned the landlady and principal tenant - who had subdivided flats to earn more rent- for being greedy and not paying heed to tenants' safety. Lee Chui-sun, widow of Choy Toa-keung, 40, blamed landlady Chak Oi-luen for failing to evacuate tenants even after being told the 55-year-old Hung Hom tenement was unsafe - two months before it collapsed.
"[Chak] knew the building was dilapidated but did not do anything about it," Lee said.
But lawyers for the Buildings Department director and Chak argued the deaths were "accidental," saying the coroner's court need only decide the cause of death and not legal responsibility.
Earlier, an expert witness disagreed with a department structural engineer who suggested that a worker who cleared illegal H-shaped iron bars hours before the collapse was to blame.
Polytechnic University civil and structural engineering professor Eddie Lam Siu-shu said the structural column collapsed not due to maintenance work but lack of repair and the additional weight of subdivided flats on upper floors.
"It's just like a four-legged table," Lam said. "It topples when one leg breaks."
August 17th, 2011, 05:49 PM
Coroner blast for death flats owner
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
A coroner has described the landlady of an old tenement in Ma Tau Wai, which collapsed and crushed four people to death in January 2010, as "dishonest and unreliable."
However, the coroner, Michael Chan Pik-qiu, ruled the deaths to be accidental.
Chan slammed Chak Oi-luen, landlady of the 55-year-old building, and Buildings Department officials for neglect of duties though he agreed there was no evidence to suggest they should be held criminally responsible.
He said Chak had unhesitatingly "lied in court" to protect her interests.
"She claimed she kept calling [a Buildings Department surveyor] a dozen times a day before the collapse but in fact he had already left his position in late November [in 2009]," Chan said.
He said Chak, 53, knew of the potential danger of the building at 45J Ma Tau Wai Road months before it came down, but did not try her best to have it fixed.
"Whenever she faced any obstacle, she just stood still and gave up," he said.
But Chan ruled Chak could not be held responsible for the deaths, considering her unprofessional knowledge of building safety and her efforts to urge for a closure order of the block.
She also paid HK$120,000 to a contractor to carry out work in order to comply with a government repair order.
Unlicensed contractor Chu Wai- wing, 75, is the only person in the incident who was charged with violating the Building Ordinance. The coroner dismissed allegations that Chu, who led workers to remove illegal structures on the block on the day of the tragedy, had caused the building to topple.
Evidence clearly showed the building was in such a poor condition that it could have come down anytime, Chan said. "Any minor construction work done by the contractor could have triggered the fall."
The coroner accused a Buildings Department surveyor of making a sloppy assessment on the safety of the tenement two months before the collapse. Terry Wan Chi-wai treated the inspection as "a mere matter of routine" and issued an advisory letter to the owner without careful consideration, Chan ruled.
Accepting testimonies given by three structural engineers that the building was on the verge of collapse when it was inspected by the surveyor, he said Wan's professional assessment that it was not in imminent danger was proven wrong.
"The potentially dangerous building was akin to an already overloaded camel that will fall with the addition of a single piece of straw," Chan said.
The Coroner's Court recommended that the government should intensify efforts to ensure the safety of tenements.
Chan suggested that emergency cases that need site inspections within 10 days should also be attended by a professional structural engineer and not only by a surveyor.
In addition, an administrative procedure of sending out an advisory letter after inspection should be skipped as owners usually ignore it, he said. Instead, a legally binding repair order should be issued to improve efficiency and inspectors be deployed to the site after two weeks to check if the work has started on time.
Coroner's officer Bruce Tse Chee-ho said the purpose of the inquest has been achieved while Chak's barrister, Shahmim Khattak, said the judgment "reflected everyone's interest."
Lee Chui-sun, widow of Choy Toa- keung, 40, was "heartbroken" by the verdict and said the landlady should bear responsibility for her husband's death.
Leung Kai-tai, who lost his girlfriend Lo Kin-wa, 46, will study the verdict before deciding whether to help her family claim compensation through civil suits.
The Buildings Department said it respected the verdict and will seriously consider the recommendations.
A spokesman also said it is the owners' basic responsibility, which they cannot shirk, to maintain the safety of their properties.
February 21st, 2013, 05:51 PM
Builder faces three years for deadly collapse
Thursday, February 21, 2013
The elderly owner of a renovation company faces up to three years in jail after being found guilty of carrying out building work thought to have caused the deadly collapse of an old tenement in To Kwa Wan.
Four people died when the five-story building at Block J, 45 Ma Tau Wai Road collapsed three years ago.
Kowloon City magistrate Abu Baker bin Wahab said Chu Wai-wing, 75, carried out work on a pillar and platform in a shop on the ground floor.
He did this without first shoring up the building with steel bars and ensuring its safety.
Chu, who is unemployed and receives Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of carrying out building work in a manner that caused injury to persons and damage to property.
But the magistrate ruled yesterday that Chu, the sole proprietor of Wai Wing Construction Decoration, should have long noticed faults such as rotting columns and concrete peeling off ceilings on the then 55-year-old block, since he had been hired to do the repairs and carry out maintenance on the building since 2005.
The removal of a main column of a shop on the ground floor, without using appropriate tools and equipment to make sure the building was structurally safe, is believed to be the major cause of the collapse, the magistrate said.
The building was already in a "very, very dilapidated state" before Chu started work on the day of the collapse, the magistrate said. Chu did not even bother to requisition the services of qualified building contractors and surveyors to inspect the building.
Instead, Chu "of his own accord" thought of buying I-shaped steel bars to support the building.
He made this decision when he was again called to tear down an illegal structure on that fateful January day.
Despite the steel bars never being delivered, Chu went ahead with the repair work.
He proceeded with the work even when the block was collapsing, the magistrate said.
The magistrate said he will take into consideration probation and community service reports before adjourning sentencing to March 6.
The trial lasted for 28 days, with 22 witnesses, including three buildings officers, six former tenants and a building expert, called to testify.
The maximum penalty for such improper practice and causing structural building damage is up to three years in jail and a fine of HK$1 million.
Speaking outside court, Chu said he had no clue that the relatives of those died had filed claims against him.
On behalf of the relatives of the victims, Yam Kwok-tung, a member of Kowloon City District Council, expressed regret over the ruling as the Buildings Department escaped responsibility for the incident.
March 7th, 2013, 04:17 PM
Leniency for tragedy scapegoat
Thursday, March 07, 2013
An elderly man living on the dole claims he has become the scapegoat for the collapse of a Hung Hom tenement building that left four people dead.
That came yesterday as Chu Wai-wing, 77, who used to have his own building renovation operation, was fined HK$10,000 for carrying out work likely to cause injury to people or damage to property.
Kowloon City court magistrate Abu Bakar bin Wahab said he was being very lenient as Chu and his wife subsist on Comprehensive Social Security Assistance of around HK$6,000 a month and because Chu had a clear record.
But Chu's view was that he was being made the scapegoat for the deadly collapse in January 2010 of the five-story building at 45 Ma Tau Wai Road that also injured two people.
The court earlier heard that he had carried out maintenance work on the building since 2005 and was called in again at the start of 2010 as the owner wanted unauthorized structures removed.
Chu said he regretted accepting the job as he had told the owner three times that the building was in a dire condition and that a check by experts was needed.
But independent engineer Wong Chak-yan, a former president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, pointed out that two government surveyors had been blamed by the coroner in a separate hearing, saying they had failed to perform their duties diligently.
However, Wong added, the two surveyors had acted according to the system and told the owner to hire professionals to check the building and carry
Chu had chiseled away at a column and flooring, which prosecutors claimed posed the risk of injury to people or damage to the property.
Still, the magistrate also said that while Chu, owner of Wai Wing Construction Decoration Co, had been at work two days before the building's collapse there was no evidence to show that his work caused the disaster.
The maximum penalty for the charge Chu faced is three years in prison and a fine of HK$1 million.
Chu described his punishment as unfair since he was the only one taken before a court.
"The Buildings Department should take the major responsibility," he said. "Its surveyors inspected the building and said it was safe even though the columns had cracks."
He added: "I will have to save part of the dole payment to pay the fine."
Chu said he had been unemployed since the tragedy but will not appeal against the sentence.
The Department of Justice is now studying the court's verdict to see if any further action needs to be taken.
Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu found in August 2011 that the four deaths were accidental. He was unable to find the deaths unlawful and said no one should be held criminally responsible.
The coroner also agreed with expert witnesses that Chu had played only a minor role, though he described his work as the last straw.