Toppled crane kills policeman

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 March, 1999, 12:00am

A POLICE officer died last night after a 70-tonne crane fell on him in Sai Kung.

The police, labour, and electrical and mechanical services departments are to carry out a joint investigation into the accident.

Marine Constable Kong Wing-fat, 38, was trapped for almost three hours when the police crane fell over while trying to lift a damaged mainland sampan out of the water at the Marine East division police headquarters in Tui Min Hoi. A sergeant and three other constables, aged 32 to 42, were injured earlier when their patrol boat crashed into the sampan, which was carrying three illegal mainland fishermen near Tai Long Tsui, off Sai Kung waters.

Firefighters and government engineers finally lifted Constable Kong from beneath the crane shortly before 5pm.

The father-of-two was taken to the Prince of Wales Hospital, where he died 3.5 hours later.

Marine Police regional commander Assistant Commissioner Spencer Foo Tsun-kong yesterday said the crane had not been stabilised with a mechanical tripod or leg during the operation.

'We are trying to determine the cause of the accident. The crane operation followed routine procedures, which are well-established and safe,' he said.

The drama started shortly after 11am when Marine Police officers in a fast-pursuit craft spotted three mainland fishermen on a sampan. They gave chase and crashed into the sampan. The mainlanders made another dash to escape but were intercepted by a second Marine Police craft.

Four officers were injured in the crash and were taken to Prince of Wales Hospital, where they were treated and discharged.

The fourth officer was in stable condition last night.

The second police craft towed the two damaged vessels back to the police headquarters, where the crane lifting the two boats for inspection toppled and fell on to the towing vessel.

Constable Kong was pinned underneath the crane.