Hong Kong government to issue order for building owner to look into condition of structure after collapse scare

City’s building authority will also investigate if regulations had been breached

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 June, 2017, 2:34am

Hong Kong’s building authority will issue an order on Friday to the owners of a 61-year-old tenement block to carry out a detailed investigation into the condition of the structure, as it looked into whether building regulations had been breached.

The latest development came a day after a subdivided balcony flat on the bottom floor of the 50 Gillies Avenue South block in Hung Hom collapsed following days of heavy rain, injuring no one but rendering the block temporarily too dangerous for residents to live in.

On Thursday, government contractors tore out remnants of the collapsed balcony and propped up the rest of the building with trusses, as two more balconies were considered structurally dangerous.

A court-issued closure order ended at about 6pm on Thursday and affected residents were allowed to retrieve their belongings.

Another balcony to be demolished after collapse at old Hong Kong tenement block

Retiree Chan Wing-yam, 65, the tenant of the collapsed balcony, returned to get his clothes, but he was more concerned about his tools. “I used to work in renovation and I’m now a part-time handyman. People can call me up anytime,” he said.

Chan later learnt that his tools and many of his other belongings were found in the rubble and were now at a Kowloon Bay depot, where he could claim them.

Another resident, who gave her name only as Wong, returned for clothes, food and a rice cooker.

“The problem is, even though I have my things, I have nowhere to store them,” the 52-year-old said.

Wong, who works as a cleaner, moved to Hong Kong from the mainland about 10 years ago and is trying to get a public housing flat. She filed an application in April.

Social workers were in the process of arranging temporary housing for some residents such as Wong.

District councillor Lam Tak-shing, who has been assisting the residents, said:“In the short term, we don’t feel it is safe for them to return to live in the building.”

Old Hong Kong tenement buildings with subdivided flats pose threat as owners neglect repairs

He added that he was still liaising with Richfield, which represents building owner Henderson Land. The developer, which has acquired most buildings in the area for redevelopment, pledged to look for empty flats to house affected residents.

Richfield could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Many of the walk-ups in Hung Hom are old, with most having been around for more than half a century.

“It’s not a nice place to live in but what can you expect for HK$3,500 a month?” said a resident who lives on the same street.

“The concrete is all cracked and there is rubbish everywhere [in stairwells]. It’s dangerous.”