Fire prompts tram inquiry
By STEVE BALL
A WIDE ranging review of tram safety is set to start today as Hong Kong Tramways gives government investigators a full briefing on Monday's near fatal tram fire.
The condition of tram driver Li Ko-leong improved marginally yesterday with doctors at Queen Mary Hospital upgrading him from critical to poor.
But Mr Li, who smashed his head as he jumped out of the cabin window of the moving tram to escape the flames, is still only semi-conscious after being in a coma for two days.
Last night the man in charge of the Government's investigation said the inquiry would not be confined merely to the electrical fault which caused the fire.
''If people have to get out through windows then that is not on,'' said Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) assistant director Keith Whittle.
''I am aware of what has been reported in the press that people cannot get off if the fire is at the front,'' he said.
''If people can't get off that tram because something happened to the front then you have to do something. Maybe there should be some emergency switch, some way of disengaging the ratchet on the gates at the back.'' Mr Whittle said he would be briefed this morning by Hong Kong Tramways and two EMSD engineers who have already inspected the tram.
''I want to go and talk to Tramways to see how we can prevent this from happening again. I want to see what Tramways are doing. Are they making suggestions on this?'' Mr Whittle said he would be advising Transport Branch how the issue of public safety could be addressed.
Hong Kong Tramways refused to comment yesterday.