Firefighters who broke into a junk-filled flat yesterday found the decomposing body of an elderly woman as well as her semi-conscious son.
They had been called to the Sham Shui Po flat by neighbours who complained of a foul odour and arrived at about 12.30pm to find smoke billowing out.
After breaking down the door they found the body of Tam Yuet-kuen, 76, in one bedroom and her son in another. He was suffering from smoke inhalation.
The Fire Services Department said investigators found the blaze suspicious and the case had been handed over to police.
A spokesman said the rescuers found the son first.
"He had inhaled smoke and felt unwell," he said "The woman's body was then discovered in another bedroom."
Police Chief Inspector Paul Ng Yu-fan, of Sham Shui Po district police, said the woman had been dead for three to five days.
"We believe [Tam's] death was not caused by the fire," a police source said.
Ng said a small fire had broken out behind the front door, where there was scattered cardboard and newspaper. The flat was filled with junk including newspapers and empty cartons.
Residents of the Wah Tao Building in Tai Po Road said they had first noticed the odour from the eighth-floor flat over the weekend and it had become stronger yesterday.
The son, in his 40s, was given oxygen after being removed from the flat. He was taken to Caritas Medical Centre and was in serious condition last night. Eight fire engines and two ambulances went to the scene and the fire was put out at 1.15pm. A neighbour said the woman was a scavenger and had lived with her son for more than 20 years.