Decision to let packed cage go saved Ah-hung from death

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 June, 1993, 12:00am

TONG Kam-hung could not squeeze into the lift when he returned from his tea break with fellow workers yesterday and decided to stand back and wait his turn.

''I couldn't get in because I was the last in the pack,'' he said.

''There were more than 10 people already in the lift and I decided to stand back, let them go first and wait for another trip up the building,'' the 37-year-old worker recalled.

''There must have been 13 or 14 people in the lift.'' He saw two of the men getting out when the hoist reached the 20th floor.

''After the two workers got out the lift was climbing up. Suddenly, I heard two strange sounds of 'click, click' and a few seconds later it just plunged down.

''I had only seconds to dive for cover into the building. It was horrifying.'' At first, he dared not look at the injured workers. But a few seconds later he saw a pile of men trapped in a metal cage, lying motionless.

Only those on the top were able to moan in pain.

Unable to help, Mr Tong could only wait for rescue services to arrive.

''The firemen were busy ripping and cutting the wire cage in order to free the injured workers as soon as possible.

''Some of the officers picked up wooden planks and used them as additional stretchers to ferry the men to the first aid before they were taken to the waiting ambulances.

''It was a freak and horrific fall.

''The hoist came down very quickly and the cogwheel and guide roller seemed to have derailed from the tooth rail.

''Nothing like this had happened before except the hoist had been found to sway as it travelled up and down the building.

''Overloading was common and there was nothing the lift operator could do to stop people from packing the hoist,'' Mr Tong said.