A second worker was found dead Thursday evening after a work platform collapsed earlier at the construction site of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

The 41-year-old worker, surnamed Onwuka, came from Nigeria. He fell into the sea when the platform’s cables snapped and the structure collapsed on Wednesday. He was disassembling the structure with two colleagues, HK01 reported.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridg
Construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. File Photo: GovHK.

Only one worker was able to swim back to shore after the three fell into the water. Another worker surnamed Gurung, 22, was found about four hours after the incident, but was pronounced dead around 7:45pm after being rushed to North Lantau Hospital.

A worker was reported as saying that the three workers wore safety belts hooked to the platform; it was likely the two men who died were unable to release the belts and sank with the platform.

Two other workers were at a nearby site at the time. They were injured by snapped cables, according to police.


Deputy Commissioner for Labour Jeff Leung Wing-yan said on an RTHK programme on Thursday that safety belts “should be attached to a suitable and secure anchorage rather than a work platform.”

The authorities inspected the construction site around 400 times last year, Leung said. He added that the government is investigating the incident, but could not give an estimate of how long the probe would take.

Deputy Commissioner of Labour Jeff Leung Wing-yan
Deputy Commissioner of Labour Jeff Leung Wing-yan (right). File Photo: GovHK.

Meanwhile, the Highways Department has set up an independent investigation team – led by a deputy director – to probe the case and study how to improve safety measures. The team will submit a report to the department chief within three months.

The department also said the relevant construction work had been suspended.

On Thursday, the relatives of the deceased met with representatives of the Highways Department and contractors to discuss compensation arrangements. They said the authorities were not transparent and the rescue effort was slow.

According to HK01, Onwuka’s relatives were not informed by the contractor of the incident, and were only able to contact Onwuka’s employer Thursday afternoon.

Since construction started in 2011, there have been several accidents at the project site. Before Wednesday’s incident, there have been eight fatalities on the site over the last six years, according to Apple Daily.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.