Two hurt by fumes in college lab blaze
A mainland postgraduate student and a technician were taken to hospital after a chemical used as a drying substance in an experiment caught fire in a Chinese University laboratory yesterday.
The university laboratory safety officer, Yip Sung-tat, said the incident was sparked by humidity, but could have been avoided with better safety measures.
He said the university's 25-year-old laboratories could only meet basic requirements and needed upgrading.
Mr Yip said the university had a multi-million-dollar plan to upgrade all the laboratories, but was waiting for funds.
Two mainland postgraduates and two other local students were inside the ground-floor laboratory of the university's Science Centre when the incident happened.
Mainlander Liu Jian-hui, 35, said the chemical, lithium aluminium hydride, in powder form produced dark smoke and ignited inside a metal can as he used a spoon to take out some of the chemical to dehydrate a chemical liquid, toluene, nearby.
Liu, a Beijing University student who came to the territory about four months ago, suffered minor burns to his right hand as he helped other students put out the blaze.
Smoke carried through the ventilation system to the next room, where technician Ng Kam-hung, 50, inhaled fumes and was taken ill.
Both were taken to Prince of Wales Hospital. Liu was treated and discharged, but Ng was still under observation last night.