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Experts urge action before harsh weather ruins relics found at new MTR site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:48am

Antiquities advisers are worried that sunlight and the imminent typhoon season will ruin ancient relics unearthed at the To Kwa Wan MTR site and urge prompt action to protect them.

The concern was raised at the Antiquities Advisory Board meeting yesterday as members discussed how to strike a balance between consultation and timely action amid heated debate over the handling of the relics.

Dr Liu Wensuo, an archaeologist at Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen University, who is conducting the archaeological excavation, warned that a round structure - which he called a pit and Chinese University archaeologist Dr Tang Chung earlier identified as a well - was on the verge of collapse. He suggested it be backfilled - refilled with the material dug out of it - for protection.

"It has been almost a month since it was dug out. Recently, the archaeological team has observed that the underground water level is lowering [and] the upper part of the pit is showing signs of collapse," he said.

Liu said exposure to strong sunlight was another threat to the unearthed relics, which date from the Song dynasty (960-1279AD) to the early 20th century.

Members agreed that the archaeological team should go ahead with the backfilling and Stephen Chan Chit-kwai, a director of the Conservancy Association, said the work should be done before severe weather hits.

The archaeological excavation work is required by environmental impact assessment laws for the railway construction.