Son tells of fatal rescue attempt

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2007, 12:00am

'What does gas smell like? Does it smell like dried mushrooms?' This was Mak Tsz-ming's response yesterday when he was asked whether he smelt gas while wheeling his 92-year-old mother Eap Kwun out of the lift at Wai King Building on April 11 last year.

Before they reached the entrance hall they were hit by the blast, which killed his adoptive mother.

Mr Mak had earlier seen a throng of officers in Jordan Valley North Road, which was closed, and rushed back upstairs to evacuate his mother.

'And this is why the accident happened; because I didn't want to carry my mum on my back to walk the stairs, I took the lift,' he told the court.

Without the usual security guards on hand to help him carry his mother's wheelchair from the entrance hall to the front gate, Mr Mak asked his mother to get up and walk. 'Right at that moment she stood and, without taking a step, there was the explosion,' he said. It knocked him unconscious and he had woken to find himself in the debris outside the building.

'I suffered mild injuries but my mother died 18 days later on April 29 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital after staying in a coma.'

Hon Yuet-bor said the gas leak was 'very serious' and he had never seen anything like it since starting work as an engineer for Town Gas in 1995. 'The smell of gas filled the stretch of the street ... and I've never seen gas seeping out from manholes and cracks,' he said.

He found traces of gas when he arrived at 12.45pm and three minutes later found very strong concentrations near two manholes and at a crack in the road. He had seen 'bubbles' boiling up around them, which indicated gas was seeping out. Droplets of water sprayed by firemen had 'splashed upward' because of the pressure of the leak near the manholes at 2pm and 30 minutes later he felt the blast.