Elderly man dies after slab of cement falls on him from Hong Kong building

Piece thought to have fallen from fifth floor, and measured about 90cm by 120cm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 11:46pm

An elderly man died after being hit by a slab of tiles and cement that fell from a Hong Kong office block on Tuesday.

The incident took place in an alley outside Lai Sun Commercial Centre off Cheung Sha Wan Road, near the junction with Kwong Cheung Street, in Cheung Sha Wan soon after 10.30am, police said.

The victim was identified as Zhu Donghui, 68. He was taken unconscious to Princess Margaret Hospital in Lai Chi Kok, where he was later certified dead.

Zhu had been working with four colleagues in the alley when the slab fell. It was understood they were installing steel panels on the ground floor of the outer wall of an adjacent building under construction.

According to police, the other four workers were about two metres away from the victim at the time and were unhurt in the incident.

One of the workers told police that Zhu was wearing a safety helmet at the time of the incident.

“After being struck over the head, the victim collapsed on the floor, vomited blood and then fell unconscious at the scene,” a police source said. “The slab broke into pieces.”

He believed the 4cm-thick slab measured about 90cm by 120cm.

“Initial investigations showed the slab peeled off from the outer wall on the fifth floor of Lai Sun Commercial Centre, fell down and struck the victim,” he said.

He said officers were investigating why it broke off.

The source said police would investigate when the outer wall was last inspected and repaired as part of their investigation.

Zhu, who moved to Hong Kong from the mainland several years ago, lived with his wife in a public housing flat in Wong Tai Sin. It was understood his children, who live on the mainland, were on the way to Hong Kong after learning of the tragedy.

The building’s property manager was arrested on Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of allowing an object to fall from a height, police said.

By 6pm, the man, 46, was being held for questioning at Sham Shui Po police station and had not been charged. He was released on bail later that evening and must report back to police later this month.

According to police, the suspect was likely to be released on bail as officers needed more time to gather evidence. Detectives from the Sham Shui Po district crime squad were handling the case.

The Labour Department said it had sent staff to the scene upon receiving an accident report.

The alley was cordoned off last night for officers from the Buildings Department to carry out a thorough inspection, and the owner will be ordered to carry out a thorough inspection of the wall.

Lai Sun Group said in a statement that it was profoundly saddened by the loss of life and the distress suffered by the family – who will be offered a relief payment.

It said there used to be a canopy over the alley but it was removed temporarily to make room for a gondola which would be installed for a project on the neighbouring building.

And it believed the fallen wall tiling might be related to the two recent typhoons.

It would launch an investigation and inspection of the whole building.