Collapsed wall showed no defects in check

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 July, 1994, 12:00am

THE Kennedy Town wall that collapsed on Saturday night, covering at least six people in an avalanche of mud, last month showed no defects in a routine work inspection.

The Secretary for Works, James Blake, said yesterday a departmental investigation had already begun to find the cause of the landslide.

Speaking moments after conducting an official inspection of the Kwun Lung Lau Estate, Mr Blake said the partially destroyed retaining wall had never been identified as a high risk by experts, mainly because it was not a vulnerable earth slope.

''This particular feature did not show any sign of incipient risk,'' Mr Blake said.

''It had been inspected and there was no reason whatsoever to believe it would collapse as it did.

''There must be some trigger. That trigger will be determined, hopefully, in the investigation which has begun.'' Mr Blake rejected claims that the Government had attempted to hide information on the health of the territory's slopes.

He also said a consultancy report had been commissioned to update the library of details on walls and slopes; the last such analysis being completed about 10 years ago.

''We have been over this question of dangerous slopes,'' Mr Blake said. ''The list of slopes is available through the Civil Engineering Department.

''There have been those who wanted to examine slopes in their area; they have taken advantage of the library of slopes.

''As you know, slopes are categorised under different degrees of risk.

''There is no attempt whatsoever to hide any of the slopes which might be considered a very high risk.

''Those categories of slopes are dealt with under our annual programme of improvement to such slopes.

''It is the masonry wall structure that has failed. We are beginning another consultancy to go around the whole of the territory to look at all features - of this type - and all features which might pose a hazard.

''Particularly to those features where the public - either on the roads or on the footpaths - are close to the base of the slope.

''It is in fact an upgrading of the existing library of such features.

''The original survey, of course, was done more than 10 years ago and that is the basis of the library of features.'' The Acting Governor, Anson Chan Fang On-sang, also inspected the mudslide site in Smithfield Road, taking time to console evacuated residents in a temporary shelter.

Mrs Chan said the administration would do all it could to publicise the risk of danger in the coming days.

''We are all very saddened by this very tragic event,'' Mrs Chan said.

''Everybody has been working very hard to try to rescue as many as possible from the landslide.'' ''I would also, of course, like to extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who died in this accident.

''And, to those who are currently in hospital, I hope they will recover very soon.''