Driver's narrow escape as window falls 28 floors

Huge pane of glass shatters in heat - the fourth time on the same luxury estate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 3:38am

A huge window pane came crashing down from the 28th floor of a luxury residential block in Ap Lei Chau yesterday, hitting a car and missing the driver by seconds.

Residents say three other panes have fallen from their frames at the same Larvotto complex since 2011 and 34 windows had cracked. An expert blamed it on impurities in the glass reacting to hot weather.

This time, residents said they heard a loud noise just after 8am and then saw large pieces of glass plummeting past their windows.

One woman who lives on the 15th floor said: "I heard a loud bang and saw glass falling down outside and I immediately knew it was the same problem.

"My first reaction was to look down and I saw it had hit a car. A couple of seconds later, I realised it was my car."

She said glass had landed on the windshield and just missed her driver, who had been there seconds earlier. "It was a close call for her," she added.

Another resident, who moved in with her young family a year ago, rushed from her 35th-floor flat to the ground floor to see what had happened.

"I'm considering moving out because it's frightening," she said. "We don't feel we can leave the building safely. I feel like a prisoner in my own home."

She said one key reason for moving to the complex was because of the ample open space. "But with more than 40,000 glass panes, it's not safe to go outside," she added.

Clifford Bury, managing director of JAS (Inspection and Testing) which assesses glass, said the window cracked probably because of "spontaneous breakage" due to the presence of nickel sulphate in the glass.

"Heat accelerates the change in the nickel sulphate, so when there is warm weather such as this week, the nickel sulphate expands," Bury said.

A spokeswoman for Cheerjoy Development, which built the estate, said a new window would be installed on Monday and an independent consultant would investigate the incident.

"We note that there was a broken window at Larvotto this morning, but no one was injured," she said, adding that the company had recently bought extra insurance for damage related to broken windows.

Cheerjoy is a joint venture of Sun Hung Kai Properties, Kerry Properties and Paliburg Holdings. Kerry Properties is part of the Kerry Group, the controlling shareholder of the SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post. SHKP is the project manager of the Larvotto.