A seven-year-old mainland boy who had been in Hong Kong just 24 hours plunged to his death from a public-housing block yesterday after he ran ahead of his mother, got into a lift alone and pressed the button to the 31st floor.
His panicked mother called the police, went looking for her son and was distraught to find his body slumped on the first-floor podium of King Lai House, on the Shan King Estate in Tuen Mun.
His death sparked concern about the height of railings in the block, which has been the scene of several suicides and falls in recent years.
The boy and his mother were visiting a relative who lived on a lower floor of the building, according to people at the scene.
Shortly after 1pm, after the family came back from lunch, the little boy dashed into the lift alone on the ground floor and took it to the 31st floor.
He then somehow managed to climb through the protective railings in the 31st-floor lift lobby of the 35-storey building before plunging to the podium below.
The boy was still alive when emergency crews arrived but died shortly after arriving at Tuen Mun Hospital.
Police sealed off the scene and are looking into the cause of his death. Preliminary investigations suggested it was not suspicious, a police spokesman said.
A grieving male relative of the boy who came to the hospital was too upset to answer questions from the media.
It is unclear whether the boy came to the city on a visitor visa or had acquired residence in Hong Kong. Police would not confirm his identity, citing privacy reasons.
Neighbours in King Lai House said they were shocked by the boy's death. The railings were close to two metres high, with gaps that were not wide enough for someone to get through, they said.
But one resident, a member of the housing estate's mutual aid committee, said King Lai House was one of the few blocks there that did not have ceiling-high railings in the common areas, and said this posed a safety risk. He said there had been cases of people falling from heights on the estate, but the property managers failed to follow up.
King Lai House has been the scene of several fatal plunges. In 2008, a 24-year-old man committed suicide by jumping from the 11th floor. In the same year, a girl aged about 17, who had a mental illness, fell from the block.
In 2005, at nearby King Wing House, a 29-year-old unemployed woman jumped from her home on the 10th floor after quarrelling with her father.