Seven people were injured, three critically, in a lift accident in North Point last night.
The accident happened at about 8pm in a commercial building at 480 King's Road. The lift dropped suddenly just after it had passed the first floor on the way up.
All four cables of the lift - which could hold up to 12 people - broke at the same time and the emergency brake also failed to work, said the director of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, Chan Fan, after an initial inspection.
The seven passengers, aged 30 to 82, were rescued by firemen and taken to hospital in four ambulances.
"It is rare to see all cables break at the same time, and the brake should have worked and prevented this normally," Chan said. A further investigation was needed to find the reason for the accident, he said.
"If there was slight damage to any of the cables, it should have been easily detected [during a maintenance check]."
Chan said cables should be changed if they show more than 10 per cent damage.
The lift was given a routine check-up two weeks ago by Shineford Engineering Limited, which inspects hundreds of lifts in the city.
Chan said the department would check other lifts maintained by the firm and meet company representatives.
The injured were being treated at Queen Mary Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital. Four were in serious condition.
"The height involved was not great, so we don't understand why the injuries inflicted were so serious," said Tse King-wa, chairman of the Hong Kong General Union of Lift and Escalator Employees. "[Probably] the speed of the drop was high, without any state of slowing or buffering."
Part of the lift could be seen stuck in the shaft below ground-floor level. The glass wall inside the lift was shattered by the force of the impact.