Collapse rescue suspended

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2001, 12:00am

Emergency crews yesterday suspended the rescue operation at a collapsed industrial block in Yau Tong after a two-day search for trapped workers.

Although they remained listed as missing, an official said two of the four men still trapped had died. Hopes dimmed for the other two.

Rescue work had to be suspended for at least four days so what remained of the Asian Trade Centre could be demolished, Director of Buildings Leung Chin-man said.

'It is very dangerous as the remaining parts . . . could tumble down at any time, threatening the lives of rescue workers,' he said. 'We have to focus on demolition work . . . to remove the immediate danger.'

The six-storey building collapsed on Monday. Siu Wong-sang, 43, was killed at the scene. Yuen Kwok-wah, 45, died in hospital on Tuesday night.

A further five men, aged between 35 and 73, were hurt. The injured remained in United Christian Hospital last night, all in a stable condition.

Chief structural engineer with the Buildings Department Choy Kin-kuen said: 'As rescue workers dug deeper, the remaining blocks tilted further and could fall down at any minute.'

The department estimates it could take five days to pull down the rest of the building.

The decision to suspend the rescue operation was announced by Mr Leung last night after consultations with the Director of Fire Services, Hsu King-ping.

When asked if there was no chance of finding the four missing workers alive, Mr Leung said: 'We have confirmed two of the missing workers have died.

'We know where two of the remaining men are buried in the site and life detectors have indicated that they have no signs of life under the debris.'

A Fire Services Department spokesman said rescuers had had great difficulty trying to reach the buried workers.