Man Made Disaster

Gondola tragedy sparks warning

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 February, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 February, 1994, 12:00am

GONDOLA operators face a crackdown following an explosion in Yuen Long almost three weeks ago which killed two men working outside the fifth floor of a public housing block.

Labour Department officials are drafting a letter reminding contractors they face a $200,000 fine and six months' prison if they ignore safety guidelines. Employees face a $50,000 fine and up to six months' jail.

The measures include making sure flammable substances are properly labelled and that there is fire-fighting equipment available.

Officials decided to send out a circular after police found there were no suspicious circumstances.

''As far as we are concerned it was an industrial accident,'' a spokesman said.

Fire officers believe fumes from decorating materials the men were using ignited and created a fireball which set their clothes alight. Witnesses said the men were trying to extinguish the flames before they fell to their deaths.

The Labour Department's chief factory inspector Chan Tat-king said the tragedy had nothing to do with the mechanical operation or the design of the gondola.