Ride closed after mishap hurts 3

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

The popular Pirate River ride at the AIA Hong Kong World Carnival in Admiralty has been shut down permanently after an accident in which three people were injured, one seriously, organisers said yesterday.

A huge sign collapsed on the ride's elevated tracks on Tuesday. Strong winds have been blamed for toppling the metal signboard, which had coloured lights spelling out Pirate River and measured 15 metres by four.

Other mechanical rides operated as usual yesterday at the fun fair, which is due to close on Monday.

Engineers from the Electrical & Mechanical Services Department and police carried out an extensive inspection of the accident site. A department spokesman said a report would be available next week.

A 26-year-old woman's condition improved from serious to stable at Queen Mary Hospital yesterday. A 28-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man were in satisfactory condition.

Teresa Hong Wai-hing, a public relations officer hired by the AIA Hong Kong World Carnival, said all rides had been approved by the department, but declined to comment because of the ongoing investigation.

The Observatory released two thunderstorm warnings at 8pm and 8.25pm on Tuesday night shortly before the accident. Ms Hong said carnival staff checked weather reports from the Observatory every hour.

'We can only stop the ride according to the real time record with the observatory, and we keep an eye on the updates and stay prepared.

'When we know the weather is going to be bad, we [alert] staff to stand by. For example, when it began to rain, we had already closed the Giant Slide,' Ms Hong said.

Many carnival visitors said they were not worried about safety yesterday.

'We didn't know what happened, and we're not scared,' Canadian tourist Jing Wang said.

Meanwhile, 54 incoming flights at the international airport were affected by the storms between 8pm on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

'Eighteen of them had to fly to other places before heading back,' an Airport Authority spokesman said.

The warnings

8pm The Observatory issues an urgent thunderstorm warning, advising the public to stay indoors. 'Scattered squally thunderstorms are expected ... gusts reaching 90km/h or above may affect Hong Kong.'

8.25pm It issues a second such warning, this time about violent gusts. 'Gusts exceeding 100km/h were recorded at Sha Lo Wan at around 8.15pm. Gusts reaching 100km/h or above may affect HK.'

8.40pm Strong winds topple a heavy metal signboard at the World Carnival, injuring three people.

Source: Hong Kong Observatory