Hong Kong emergency services have freed the body of a construction worker who was trapped beneath a crane that collapsed on Wednesday morning, making the worker the third fatality in the deadly industrial accident that occurred at a building site in Sau Mau Ping.
Rescuers reached the construction worker, who had been trapped at the base of the collapsed crane, at around 6 p.m. Live footage from local media showed a person wrapped in white cloth laying on the ground soon, while RTHK reported the worker was taken away by “multiple paramedics.” Local media later reported they had died.
The accident occurred at a site on Anderson Road at 10:49 a.m., authorities said during a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon. The crane – which was 30 metres tall with a 35-metre-long arm and weighed 65 tonnes – collapsed and fell onto six shipping containers beneath it.
“A worker was operating the crane when the incident happened. From the information we gathered at the scene, the crane was not carrying any weight at the time,” Yim Ying-kit, Acting Assistant Divisional Officer of the Fire Services Department, said.
One person was certified dead at the scene after suffering fractures to the skull and bleeding profusely. A second person, who had multiple fractures all over their body, died after being sent to United Christian Hospital.
Authorities spent hours attempting to rescue the person trapped beneath the base of the crane, adding that it was a difficult rescue operation.
Six people were also injured in the accident, including one who was unconscious. They were sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and United Christian Hospital for treatment. Authorities said an investigation was underway.
Suspension order issued
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun inspected the site in the afternoon. He said he believed the problem lay in the base of the tower crane, as the whole base had flipped.
Sun said it was a “rare” incident, as Hong Kong has not had such a serious industrial accident in more than 10 years. He said a suspension order had been issued ordering the construction site to cease operating the two remaining cranes.
“The order will be in force until proof is given to the Labour Department that they are safe to operate once again. So there is no time limit to the suspension order. It all depends on the site operator to prove to us so that we are satisfied that these cranes cannot break once again,” Sun said.
“For all the tower cranes – its design, construction, operation, it’s all subject to legal restrictions. We have a specific regulation crafted just to regulate the safety of tower cranes,” Sun added. “So we are going to look into all the records, certificates, issued and signed by recognised person. So this will form part and partial of our investigation into this very serious, fatal industrial accident.”
He said that authorities would inspect all tower cranes on Hong Kong’s construction sites, but it did not mean that work would have to be halted. Sun said it was the responsibility of the Labour Department to investigate the incident, and that it would take action, including legal ones, if necessary, but he sidestepped reporters’ question about the contractor behind the site or the crane operation.
The construction site was for a Hong Kong Housing Society project, Fay Siu, the chief executive of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, told HKFP.
Chief Executive John Lee meanwhile on social media expressed his condolences to the victims’ family, adding the government will look into the incident.
Correction 21:11: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the dimensions of the crane after the Fire Services Department gave the wrong information during their press briefing. The weight of the crane was also incorrect owing to our own error.
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