Tree should have been pruned by Friday, say authorities, as family of Indonesian domestic worker killed by falling branch grieve

The site of the falling tree branch that killed an Indonesian domestic worker yesterday. Via Google
The site of the falling tree branch that killed an Indonesian domestic worker yesterday. Via Google

The family of an Indonesian domestic worker killed by a falling branch yesterday are trying to come to terms with the tragedy, as authorities revealed the tree in question was due to be pruned by the end of the week.

Speaking to Liputan BMI, a site covering Indonesian migrant workers’ affairs, the son-in-law of 48-year-old Jumiati Supadi said family members were still in shock and felt numb.

The son-in-law, named Dedi, said Jumiati had worked in Hong Kong since 2013 and last traveled home a year ago, though kept in regular contact with her family, particularly to check up on her children.

“Until now, Anto and Titin have not been able to talk about their mother,” said Dedi, referring to Jumiati’s son and daughter respectively.

“They seemed not to believe [the news] because [on Monday] afternoon they were still talking to each other as usual via the telephone and she sounded cheerful.”

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Jumiati was walking with her 51-year-old employer, surnamed Wong, when she was struck by a falling branch from a 15-meter high Indian rubber tree near a bus stop outside Shun Lee estate’s Lee Hang House about 7:30am.

The mother-of-two, from Blitar Regency in East Java, was rushed to hospital in an unconscious state but later declared dead.

In a statement, the Development Bureau, which oversees the Tree Management Office and the Housing Department, said it was “saddened” by the case and expressed its “deepest condolences” to the family.

It said the 40-year-old tree was managed by the Housing Department, which had inspected it in June and arranged for pruning and the removal of dead branches by August 24. It said a contractor had started pruning work yesterday afternoon to reduce the risk of further problems.

A picture of the branch which killed a 48-year-old woman. Via Apple Daily video (screen grab)
A picture of the branch which killed a 48-year-old woman. Via Apple Daily video (screen grab)

“The condition of nearby trees was also checked today and necessary risk mitigation and preventive measures will be carried out,” the statement added.

“The department will conduct a detailed investigation into the cause of the branch failure and submit a report to the Tree Management Office. Preliminary investigation results are expected to be available in two weeks.”

According to an environmentalist who spoke to RTHK, improperly carried out pruning could have, in fact, been a contributing factor to the accident.

After inspecting the tree, Ken So, the director of the Conservancy Association, told the public broadcaster that bad pruning in the past may have led to infection and decay in the branch that killed Jumiati.

“I found the tree was regularly being pruned, but not in a very good manner, [there were] many pruning wounds,” So said, according to RTHK.

“Pruning is actually not hair cutting, it actually creates wounds every time you prune,” he said. “So when you open up the tree, that is an entry point for pathogens.”

Dedi, meanwhile, appealed for the Hong Kong government to help have his mother-in-law’s body sent home “immediately”.


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