A worker is critically ill with burns to about 40 per cent of his body after being hit by a fireball in a freak accident on a Fanling hillside yesterday.
The man, 62, was one of two men injured by the fireball. The incident happened when a steel cable supporting a load of cement being carried by a helicopter hit a high-voltage power line.
The other man, 61, suffered minor burns to his face and was in a stable condition last night.
The fireball sent a group of workers scurrying when the cable hit the line at 3pm.
Witnesses said it landed on top of the critically injured man.
Senior Fanling fire station officer Hui Kwai-kin said a helicopter from Heliservices was lifting a load of cement to the CLP Power work site at Kau Lung Hang Lo Wai off Tai Wo Service Road West in Fanling.
'The cable hit the 132,000-voltage overhead power line, creating an electric arc or fireball when the load touched the ground,' he said. 'A worker told me that the fireball was very bright and huge. It was about seven metres above the ground and right above the two victims.
'One of the injured was unable to escape in time and was badly injured when the fireball fell on him.'
Hui said the man suffered second-degree burns and his clothes were burned, but he was conscious.
He was treated by paramedics at the scene and placed on a stretcher. It took a team of eight firefighters about 15 minutes to bring him down the hill. The other injured worker was able to walk down.
The critically injured worker was in Prince of Wales Hospital last night, while his co-worker was in North District Hospital.
The Civil Aviation Department has launched an investigation. 'No damage was caused to the helicopter. It returned to its base in Tai Po after the incident,' a spokeswoman said.
CLP said it was contacting the contractor to find out the cause.
'After the incident, we ceased all airlifting work and set up a special committee to investigate the cause of the incident,' the company said.
A CLP Power spokeswoman said the overhead power line was not damaged and the electricity supply was not disrupted.