Tenement building balcony collapses in Hung Hom during Amber Rainstorm

Photo: Ming Ming So via Facebook
Photo: Ming Ming So via Facebook

Police had to rescue 22 residents of a 70-year-old tenement building in Hung Hom after one of the building’s balconies collapsed during a rainstorm in the early hours of today.

The incident took place at around 2am today at a seven-story building at 50 Gillies Avenue South when the Amber Rainstorm Warning Signal was hoisted, meaning that heavy rain exceeding 30 millimeters an hour is falling or expected to fall. The second-floor concrete balcony, measuring three meters by seven meters, suddenly collapsed and pulled down part of a bedroom with it, Ming Pao reports.

One of the flat’s residents, a man surnamed Chan, told Apple Daily that he was asleep at the time. “I woke up to the sound of a bang and my friend, who was on the top bunk, said the building was collapsing. We immediately ran downstairs.”

Furniture and other personal items fell to the ground while half of Chan’s bunk bed dangled over the edge of the crumbling concrete. Luckily, no pedestrians were on the street below. While 22 residents, including two children, had to be evacuated from the building, no one was injured.

Police, firefighters and the Urban Search and Rescue Team arrived at scene after receiving calls for help. Police cordoned off the building for their investigation, and the Buildings Department sent inspectors to conduct a structural safety check.

The seven-storey “tong lau” (tenement building) was built in the 1940s, with one flat on each floor. Chan, who has been living in a 100 square foot unit within the second floor apartment, said the flat was subdivided into five smaller units.

The building was acquired by a developer two years ago but some people still live in the flats on the second, third and fifth floor, Apple Daily reports.

The residents have been arranged to stay at the community hall of the Kowloon City Government Offices for the time being.

Ronnie Wong, a senior building surveyor at the Buildings Department, said there is no structural problem or risk of further damage to the building as the collapse was “restricted” to the second floor balcony. Initial investigation reveals the incident was caused by the building’s old age and lack of maintenance. The department will arrange contractors to remove the dangerous parts of the building as soon as possible, Apple Daily reports.

In 2010, four people, aged 20 to 46, died after a 53-year-old dilapidated building collapsed in Ma Tau Wai Road, To Kwa Wan. In 2008, a balcony at a 1960s tenement building in Kwun Tong collapsed due to the construction of an illegal wall.

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