Taxi damaged as debris falls off another building into street

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2008, 12:00am

Concrete peeled off a Tin Hau building yesterday, damaging a taxi, a day after four pedestrians were hurt by debris from a falling slab in Wan Chai.

The accidents have prompted calls for thorough inspections of older buildings throughout the city.

A large piece of concrete and tiles fell off the outer wall of Victoria Court in Hing Fat Street yesterday morning. No one was injured but the debris struck the back of a taxi.

The slab fell from a third-floor wall of the residential building. Part of a street beside the building was sealed off after the accident.

The property's management was not available for comment.

It was not the first time that concrete has fallen from Victoria Court.

According to management information posted inside the building, a slab weighing 2kg fell from the 12th floor last September, hitting an air conditioner on the seventh floor.

On Thursday, a slab of concrete and tiles measuring 3 metres by 1 metre peeled off the outer wall of an office block at a busy junction in Wan Chai during lunch hour, hurting four passers-by and damaging two vehicles.

No serious injuries were caused by the masonry and tiles that fell between the eighth and ninth floors of Iuki Tower in O'Brien Road at about 12.45pm.

It hit a fourth-floor canopy and broke into smaller pieces that showered the street at its junction with Thomson Road.

Workers later secured a similar-sized loose patch of masonry on the wall of the 25-year-old building, which a district councillor said could have been damaged by several days of heavy rain.

Edmond Wong Hon-ping, a senior lecturer at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education's department of construction, said many older buildings in the city were at risk of losing part of their outer-wall concrete.

'Such hazards are typically associated with buildings more than 20 years old,' Mr Wong said

'Space between layers of the outer wall may take in rain, which may then evaporate, creating air pressure.'

He said rusty steel bars inside a wall might also put pressure on its outer layer.

Infrared cameras could help detect the spaces between wall layers and assess the risk of concrete falling off.

Mr Wong said inspections should be carried out on the walls of all buildings more than 20 years old throughout Hong Kong in a bid to avoid more such accidents.