A 10-meter-tall (about 33 feet) and 30-meter-long (about 98 feet) crane collapsed at a Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) construction site on Anderson Road, Sau Mau Ping, Hong Kong, on Sept. 8. It fell onto several shipping containers that had been converted into temporary offices. The collapse caused three deaths and six injuries, including workers who were trapped for hours.
Government officials expressed their deep concern about the accident and are investigating the cause from the perspective of the structure of the foundation.
An injured person was trapped underneath the crane, only his lower body was visible until evening. He was rescued, covered with white sheet, and carried from the scene by firefighters. (Sung Pi-Lung/The Epoch Times)Crane Wasn’t Moving Objects
The accident happened at about 10:30 a.m. Photos on the internet showed that the collapsed crane had fallen at the boundary of the site, the center part of the crane was broken, and the red “I-beam” foundation had flipped.
Two video clips of the scene after the accident were circulated on the internet. They showed the chaos, as some workers tried to save their trapped colleagues, some shouted “run,” and some had no option but to grab the rebar next to them and slide several meters to the ground.
One worker told the media what he recalled of the accident. He heard a loud bang, and when he looked up, he saw dust rising into the air and that the crane had collapsed. The scene was chaotic. Then he felt panic and was confused until he heard another worker shout “let’s run,” he then sped to a safe place outside the site with the other workers.
Mr. Lam, who worked on the site for more than a month, recalled that no objects were being moved when the crane collapsed. He said that the container office hit by the crane was a changing room and a lunchroom, and that there were would have been more people if the accident happened during lunch hour. He thought that he was lucky that he was not in the container, otherwise, he would have died.
An injured person, who was trapped underneath the crane, was rescued and carried from the scene by firefighters. (Sung Pi-Lung/The Epoch Times)Trapped For Hours, Declared Dead
The Hong Kong Fire Service Department arrived at the scene 6 minutes after receiving the report at 10:49, and their Urban Search And Rescue Team climbed the slope of the site to search for those who were trapped under the crane.
Another group from the Fire Service Department used drones to scope the situation at the scene; a mobile medical vehicle was on standby to assist in the rescue.
An injured person is carried from the scene by firefighters. (Sung Pi-Lung/The Epoch Times)
Yim Ying-kit, Acting Assistant Divisional Officer of the Fire Services Department, said that six injured workers were trapped in six containers, some seriously injured, and one person was rescued from the cockpit of the crane.
The injured were sent to United Christian Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment.
Two of the deceased workers had suffered multiple fractures. One suffered a skull fracture and was declared dead at the scene. Another, suffered multiple fractures, wasn’t breathing, and had no pulse when he was transported to the hospital, and was later confirmed dead.
Yim mentioned that the crane was installed and used on the construction site in August, and had been used earlier in the morning. There were workers in the cockpit of the crane, but the crane was not moving any weight when it collapsed.
The firemen could only see the lower body of a person who was trapped underneath the crane. The firefighters tried to communicate with him, but he did not respond.
Later the Fire Service Department used a large crane with a lifting capacity of 650 tons to lift the damaged crane, and then they used a large tool to rescue the trapped worker.
By evening, the worker was freed and confirmed dead. The firefighters covered him with a white sheet and carried him from the scene.
Yim Ying-kit (second L), Acting Assistant Divisional Officer of the Fire Services Department, said that the two deceased had suffered multiple fractures. One was declared dead at the scene, and another was transported to hospital and later confirmed dead. (Sung Pi-Lung /The Epoch Times)Possible Unstable Foundation
Fay Siu Sin-man, director-general of the Association of the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, described this accident as the most serious one of its kind in recent years.
To her understanding, the collapse of the crane may have been caused by instability of its base.
She pointed out that the number of industrial accidents has not decreased, but has risen in recent years. There were 25 fatal accidents last year, which could indicate that the construction industry emphasizes engineering efficacy over safety.
Fay criticized the Hong Kong government for not paying close attention to all industrial accidents and failing to publish relevant accident investigation reports. Therefore, the industry could not reference them to avoid similar situations from happening. The Association urged the authorities to publish the investigation reports of every industrial accident.
Fay also said that the Labour Department and the Hong Kong Police Force will investigate whether the crane had collapsed due to installation problems.
She emphasized that a qualified engineer should be responsible for the installation of a crane. There should be a thorough inspection before first use, and cranes are subject to laws and regulations.
She asked the authorities to announce the results of the preliminary accident investigation as soon as possible and suggested that all sites in Hong Kong with similar crane operations temporarily suspend operations, and resume only after a thorough inspection confirms it is safe, and to not suspend operations only at the site of the accident.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Chris Sun (C), inspected the accident site that afternoon. (Sung Pi-Lung/The Epoch Times)
Chris Sun Yuk-han, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, inspected the site in the afternoon. He said that the authorities were highly concerned, and deeply saddened by the deceased and injured workers, and extended his condolences to their families.
Sun pointed out that there is an obvious problem with the foundation of the crane, and the Labour Department has issued a temporary suspension notice to the work site. In response to the safety issue of the crane, they will inspect all sites in Hong Kong where the crane is used, in order to ensure the installation and operation of the cranes are safe.
Sun said that after a complete investigation, if anyone is found to be legally responsible, the authorities will not hesitate to pursue legal action.
When he was asked if the accident could have involved cutting corners, he said that this would be one of the subjects of the investigation.
He also pointed out that the crane collapsed horizontally, and the red “I-beam” foundation was flipped, emphasizing that these facts would be the focus of the authority’s investigation.
He mentioned that the design, installation, and inspection of cranes are regulated by law. The authorities will investigate and identify the causes of the accident, based on the information on hand and those provided by the workers, as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the authorities will inspect all sites in Hong Kong where the cranes are in use, for safety issues. But they will not ban the operations in the other construction sites unless hazards are found.
Firefighters used drones to inspect the scene. (Sung Pi-lung /The Epoch Times)Lump Sum Payments to Families of Deceased
R2-2 site on Anderson Road, where the accident occurred, is a housing project subsidized by the HKHS.
The construction started in September last year, to provide 1,403 flats, and is expected to be completed in 2024/25.
Aggressive Construction Company is the project contractor, which is also responsible for the construction and building decoration engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, exterior wall engineering, outdoor gardening engineering, and road engineering of the estate, and so on.
The HKSH also expressed its deep concern about the accident and condolences for the casualties and to their families.
It will provide lump-sum assistance of HK$300,000 (approx. $38,000) to the families of the deceased and HK$100,000 (approx. $12,740) to the families of the injured.
A spokesman for the HKSH said that it is following up with Aggressive Construction Company and will fully cooperate with the authorities in the investigation. All operations at the site were immediately suspended.
Franki Yeung Kai-yu, Director (Projects) of the HKHS, also visited the site to better understand the accident. The HKHS has instructed all their project contractors to re-check the operation of the same type of cranes to ensure they are safe.
The Aggressive Construction Company issued a statement that they were shocked and saddened by the accident, and they extended their deepest condolences to the victims and their families.
The company said it has contacted the family members of the relevant employees and tried its best to provide support and assistance, and it will fully cooperate with the investigation to determine the cause of the accident and complete any follow-up actions.