Boy badly hurt after falling into washer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 February, 2011, 12:00am

A 16-month-old boy is in intensive care after falling into a top-loading washing machine at his home in Kwai Chung yesterday.

The toddler fell into the machine as it was operating and his 26-year-old mother found him upside down in the water, police said.

He was in serious condition in Princess Margaret Hospital last night.

The boy and his mother were in their 21st-floor flat at Yan Shek House on Shek Yam Estate in Tung Chi Street when the incident happened shortly after 2pm. He went to the kitchen when his mother was tidying up in the living room.

Initial investigations indicated that the machine had not been switched on, a police officer said.

'We believe the toddler stood on a basket packed with clothes next to the machine, opened the cover and pressed buttons to start the machine before tumbling in,' the officer said.

'When his mother found he had disappeared from the living room, she went to the kitchen and found the boy head down in the machine.'

Another police officer said the semi-automatic machine would work even with the lid open.

Police are investigating whether the incident involved child neglect. 'We believe it was a domestic accident. No one has been arrested,' a senior police officer said.

The toddler, who wore a neck brace when he was taken to the hospital, had grazes on his forehead when his mother pulled him out. A friend of the mother said she was too distraught to speak and cried when asked what had happened.

A Social Welfare Department spokesman said the boy only had head injuries. He said a medical social worker offered counselling and emotional support and the department would follow up.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department said it had examined the washing machine and would follow up if necessary.

The Consumer Council advised using washing machines fitted with child protection features. 'The covers of such washing machines cannot open when in operation. Some washing machines will switch off or set off an alarm when the cover is opened,' a spokeswoman said.