A renovation worker narrowly cheated death after a concrete beam fell on him in a Yau Ma Tei shop yesterday.
Tsang Hing-chung, 35, who was trapped under the eight-metre-long beam, had to be pulled out from under the rubble by firefighters, who took more than 10 minutes to free him.
He was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the vicinity, where he remained in serious condition last night.
Tsang was among five workers carrying out renovation work in the ground-floor shop of the six-storey building in Temple Street yesterday morning.
The building had been vacated because of the ongoing works.
"Suddenly, there was a loud bang and dust poured out from the shop," said a witness, who gave only his surname, Wong.
"The worker's upper body was trapped under the debris. He was conscious as his legs could move. His colleagues removed debris in an effort to free him, but they failed," he said.
More than 40 firefighters and paramedics, nine fire engines and two ambulances were deployed to the scene, the Fire Services Department said.
Its spokesman said firefighters lifted the beam with jacks before pulling Tsang out. "It took less than 12 minutes to free the victim," he said.
The Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims said the worker suffered a fracture in his left hand and nose injuries. He had to undergo surgery, the association added.
Tsang had been trying to remove a metal gate at the front door of the shop at the time of the accident, said Chan Kam-hong, the association's chief executive.
Chan called on the Labour Department and Buildings Department to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the incident.
The concrete beam that fell on Tsang was a lintel - a horizontal support across the top of the shop's front door. It was not an illegal structure, the Buildings Department said.
Its spokeswoman said the structure of the 49-year-old building was not affected in the incident and that the department was looking into the matter.