Residents wonder why their windows fell out

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2012, 12:00am


After Typhoon Vicente cut a swathe through the Island Resort private housing estate, residents were left wondering what had happened to their windows.

Windows and glass panels shattered and fell from at least 30 flats up to the 30th floors in two of the 12-year-old Siu Sai Wan development's five towers.

The hardest hit were the flats facing the podium garden.

A spokeswoman for Island Resort Estate Management - under the Sino Group, which developed the estate - said they had received 30 reports of damage, and blamed a number of factors.

'In addition to the pressure and direction of the wind, external objects hit the flats,' she said.

Professor Chan Siu-lai, of the Institution of Engineers, said that while it was not uncommon for breakage to occur during typhoons, properly designed and installed windows and glass panels that met statutory requirements should have no problem withstanding even the most powerful winds.

'If you follow Buildings Department requirements, the windows should be able to endure very powerful gusts,' Chan said.

He said either some windows were broken by hard objects being blown by the winds, as claimed by the developer, or the windows were not installed properly.

He said there were detailed requirements on how thick glass should be and even what sort of sealants should be used to anchor the glass securely. But he could not comment on the particular problems at Island Resort.

In response to the increasing popularity of more and larger windows, the institution had formed a task force to detail the qualifications required by contractors.

The Buildings Department has no restrictions on who can install windows and glass panels. When asked, a department spokeswoman did not address the question of if and how it would follow up the incident.

While owners of the damaged flats swiftly boarded up their windows, other residents were happy theirs remained intact.

'The windows are fine, but water is dripping off the roof,' said one resident of Tower 6. 'My friend in Tower 1 told me that two windows at his home had fallen out.'

'I was afraid the windows would fall out when the typhoon swept the city,' said a woman from Tower 5. 'So I put some tape on them.'

Eastern District councillor Albert Wong Kin-hing said this was an unprecedented incident. He believed the breakage could have been caused by objects hitting the windows.

Wong said he had found broken glass and even window frames on the street on Tuesday but was not sure where they came from.