Hong Kong restaurant explosion leaves four injured, two severely

Blast destroyed eatery front door and damaged four cars parked on street

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 9:09am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2017, 10:51pm

Four people were injured, two critically, in a gas explosion that ripped through a restaurant and sent debris flying for 20 metres in Kowloon on Wednesday.

An initial investigation showed liquified petroleum gas (LPG) was believed to have been leaked from a faulty stove and accumulated at a corner in the kitchen of a cha chaan teng, according to a government source.

“A restaurant employee tried to start the stove and caused a spark that set off the blast,” he said.

Thirteen fire engines and seven ambulances were deployed to the Hong Kong-style cafe at 35 Cheung Ning Street in To Kwa Wan after a report was made at 6.36am of a loud explosion at the site.

Assistant Kowloon West divisional officer Wong Ping-kuen said Fire Services Department was “told by an employee that the explosion occurred when he tried to turn on the stove”.

Describing the blast as “powerful”, Wong said the force of the explosion sent debris flying for about 20 metres and landing on the pavement across the road.

The force of the explosion tore down the restaurant’s brick-built wall
Wong Ping-kuen, Fire Services Department

“The force of the explosion tore down the restaurant’s brick-built wall and the false ceiling. It also dislocated and damaged furniture,” he added.

The blast was so strong that the restaurant’s front door was destroyed, while four cars parked on the street and the shutters of a garage across the road from the eatery were also damaged by the debris.

One couple living in an opposite building, who declined to give their names, said they were both awakened by the “thunderous” noise of the explosion.

“We saw three people slowly walking out from the restaurant ... then it was only minutes before firefighters arrived,” they said, adding the restaurant had been in business for over 20 years.

As of noon Wednesday, the street remained sealed off to vehicular traffic, meaning motor workshops near the scene could not open for business.

A repairman, who also asked not to be named, said his garage had to cancel some appointments for the day.

“Luckily our clients’ cars were not damaged,” he said, pointing to two vehicles parked inside the shop.

Officers from the Buildings Department were seen inspecting the restaurant, which occupies one of three ground-floor shop spaces of a residential block. Residents in the block were unaffected.

The four victims included the restaurant’s chef, 58, who was believed to be operating the faulty gas stove. He suffered burns to most of his body and was listed in critical condition at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin.

One of two male customers, 53, fell into a coma following the incident and was in critical condition at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei. The other injured diner, 63, was in stable condition.

The restaurant owner, a 58-year-old woman, complained of feeling unwell after the incident but was discharged from hospital after treatment.

Fire department officials said there were no signs of fire when firefighters arrived at the scene.

Two LPG cylinders, each weighing 15kg, were found inside the restaurant, although both appeared to be intact.

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On Wednesday afternoon, staff from the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department had taken the faulty gas stove for inspection.

The fire department and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department were investigating the cause of the blast, while the Buildings Department was notified to make sure the building’s structure remained safe.