Blaze survivor's tragic awakening

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 June, 2011, 12:00am


Lai Hok-man woke in hospital yesterday to be told that his pregnant wife and two sons had perished in Wednesday's tenement block fire in Ma Tau Wai.

Lai, 55, was unconscious and suffering from severe burns when he was rescued from the fire and taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

A workmate who visited him after he regained consciousness said Lai had thought his wife and children were safe as he had ushered them out of their cubicle in a fourth-floor flat and urged them to run downstairs while he returned to switch off some electrical appliances.

'When he went to chase after his wife, he fell to the ground and subsequently fainted. That is why he survived,' the friend said.

Four people died in the blaze in the eight-storey building. As well as Lai's wife, Huang Yan-huan, 37, and sons aged one and six, an 18-year old girl died in hospital after being found unconscious on a staircase between the fourth and fifth floors. Nineteen people were injured.

Concern has been raised about the risks posed by such buildings with subdivided flats, which are commonplace in in the area, providing cheap accommodation.