Pat Heung tofu factory blast kills one, injures four

Powerful explosion tears through tofu manufacturing plant, sending debris flying

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 4:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 4:32am

A worker died and four men were injured, one critically, in an explosion that gutted a tofu factory in Pat Heung yesterday.

The blast tore a hole in the roof of the 600 square metre, single-storey plant, hurling debris 20 metres away. Police said a furnace was believed to have exploded.

The five men - two Hongkongers and three mainlanders - were working in the factory at Sheung Tsuen, off Kam Sheung Road, when the explosion occurred in the 80-square-metre cubicle that housed the furnace.

"The explosion sent broken parts of the furnace, tin roofing sheets and metal bars flying out," a police officer said. Debris littered the open space outside the factory and some was found in a tree 20 metres away.

Ambulances took two seriously injured workers to Tuen Mun Hospital, where a Hong Kong man, 39, was declared dead. A mainlander, 38, was last night in serious condition with burns. The other three men were treated for minor injuries at Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long.

An elderly villager who lives about 100 metres from the factory said she heard a bang and felt the ground shake. "When I went out to check, a cloud of smoke was rising from the site," she added.

A worker said: "I was scared. Compared to an earthquake, the blast was much more powerful."

Ten fire engines and five ambulances went to the scene with more than 60 firefighters and paramedics. When rescuers arrived, the five injured workers had already escaped the factory.

The Fire Services Department's acting New Territories North divisional officer Lau Wai-kwong said the explosion ripped apart the furnace, causing a 20 square metre partition wall to collapse and tearing open the tin-sheeted roof. Firemen used life detectors to ensure no one was trapped under the rubble.

Lau said they were investigating the cause of the explosion and looking into whether there was illegal storage of dangerous goods.