Driver, passenger cheat death as pipe crushes cab
A taxi driver and his passenger escaped serious injury yesterday when a giant metal pipe fell from a construction site and crushed his car.
The 12-metre pipe, 30cm in diameter, plunged from the Central-Wan Chai reclamation site onto the busy Island Eastern Corridor near Watson Road in North Point.
It ended up lying across the road, bent into an inverted U-shape. The roof of the taxi was crushed.
The 44-year-old taxi driver was taken to Ruttonjee Hospital with head injuries but was discharged later in the day. An uninjured female passenger refused hospital treatment.
The pipe, used to pump cement underground, came loose when a metal chain securing it to a crane suddenly snapped at about 9am.
The accident brought a call from a taxi drivers' association for a review of the number of cranes at the site and whether they were too close to the highway.
"This time there was not much injury," said Kwan Yuk-wah, chairman of the Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee.
"But next time such a big pipe falls down when the Eastern Corridor is that busy, I can't imagine what the result will be."
He said it was an unfortunate accident and he would ask taxi drivers to be cautious when they drove on the corridor.
The 61-year-old crane operator was arrested for allowing an object to fall from a height. But he was later released after police found no criminal element.
The road was closed for clearance and was reopened at noon.
A Highways Department spokeswoman said workers were lifting the pipe for the construction of the diaphragm wall of a tunnel when it fell. She said the department was very concerned about safety and had asked the contractor, Chun Wo-CRGL-MBEC Joint Venture, to ensure the safety of its construction procedures. The department has asked the contractor to stop the procedure in question while an investigation and follow-up work are carried out, she said.