Flour 'explosion' creates snowscape

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2006, 12:00am

Castle Peak Road resembled an alpine scene yesterday afternoon when a gust of wind blew flour several centimetres thick onto a 100-metre stretch of road and nearby areas in Sham Tseng.

The picturesque scene appeared after a container at a Garden Company plant burst its lid, spewing tonnes of flour onto the street.

Police received a call for help at 2.50pm amid reports of an explosion at the factory. Six fire engines and an ambulance were sent to the scene, while officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and company workers cleaned up the mess.

A company spokeswoman said the incident occurred when a supplier was offloading flour.

'Shortly before 3pm, one of our suppliers was loading flour from a truck into the flour container when the container overfilled. The alarm to signal the container is full temporarily malfunctioned and the supplier continued to load the flour.

'Eventually the pressure caused the lid to burst and a gust of wind blew the flour onto Castle Peak Road. But there was no explosion - the loud popping sound was a result of the high pressure.'

The container, three-storeys high with a capacity of 20 to 25 tonnes of flour - enough for 25,000 loaves - has an automatic loading mechanism but it has to be switched off manually.

'The company is conducting an investigation into the cause of the malfunction,' the spokeswoman said. 'It will not affect production.'

A spokeswoman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said they sent high-pressure water-jet cleaners to wash away the flour. By 5pm the road was largely cleared, but flour continued to smother pavements, shrubs and nearby slopes.