Six weeks later, blaze still haunts survivors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 August, 2011, 12:00am


She banged on her neighbour's door and yelled at the top of her lungs. But no sound came from the rapidly thickening smoke. Her eyes were open but it began to turn dark. She had to get out.

This scene has played out countless of times in the dreams of Ms Hui since the fatal fire in Ma Tau Wai on June 15 - especially the first two weeks, when she woke up several times a night. She, her husband and son escaped without physical injuries but the mental scars remain.

'I had regular nightmares ... images of the fire would keep returning in my dreams. I would wake two to three times a night. It was terrible,' said Hui, who declined to state her given names. 'I feel a bit better now after meetings with a psychiatrist. But I am still scared of the sight of smoke or whenever I see fire trucks.'

Her family are among 46 people who were moved from the Ma Tau Wai tenement to Shek Lei Transit Centre, in Sham Shui Po, where they will live for three months. There, Hui and her family live in a 120-square-foot subdivided flat.

She admits that she is afraid of living in such cramped accommodation again, and complains of the intolerable heat. She applied for public housing four and a half years ago and still hopes that the government will offer her a flat.

She's not the only one haunted by the experience.

Hui Sui-leung, who lived on the seventh floor with his four-year-old granddaughter, said: 'My granddaughter would wake up screaming after lunch naps at school. Nightmares were frequent at three or times a week.'

Hui said he had too much money to qualify for public rental housing, but not enough to afford a private flat.

'My granddaughter never wants to return to the flat at Ma Tau Wai. I don't know what to do,' he said.