Man trapped two days by flat cave-in

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am


A man on anti-depressants was trapped in his Sham Shui Po flat for nearly 48 hours after the ceiling fell in - because he was too drowsy to call police for help.

Andy Chan Yiu-chung was asleep at 3pm on Tuesday when the living room ceiling crashed down, blocking the doorway. In a state of shock, he took his medicine and promptly went back to sleep. When he finally called the police at 10am yesterday, firemen had to break down the front door to free him.

'I was just in shock when the ceiling collapsed. I didn't know how to react,' said 45-year-old Chan, who has been on anti-depressants for about three years.

He said the medicine leaves him drowsy and unable to concentrate, which led to the delay in calling the police.

The damage to Chan's flat was extensive.

The collapse left severed wires exposed all along the walls and where the lights used to be, and the air-conditioner fell down. The bathroom and kitchen - located on the other side of the flat - were cut off from Chan's room. Everything was covered with dust and debris.

The building in Yee Kuk Street was built in 1958. It originally had two flats per floor but most have been subdivided. On Chan's floor, one of the flats has been divided into three and the other into four.

From the look of the decrepit stairway and crumbling ceilings, little maintenance has been done to the building.

Chan said he had not done any work on the ceiling in the 10 years he had lived there. He said it was normal to see small chunks of concrete falling off inside his flat and in the corridors and staircase. He said he had noticed that bigger pieces - the size of a fist - had been falling down in recent days. He had just cleaned up the mess and did not think much about it because 'there wasn't much I could do about it'.

'Just thinking about needing to sleep [in the flat] tonight scares me, but I have nowhere else to stay,' said Chan, who worries that he will be forced to stay there.

A Buildings Department spokeswoman said its officers had inspected the flat and found no danger to the building's structure. The owner of the flat had been asked to carry out repairs.

Chan works in the food and beverage industry, but said work was hard to come by. 'I've only worked nine days in July.' He said even with the welfare he was receiving, life was hard. He doesn't have a TV, and he doesn't turn on the air-conditioner.