A UNIVERSITY student who died this month after inhaling spilled chemicals was not warned to leave the area where the accident occurred, an inquiry has found. The floor was not evacuated until 22 minutes after the spill, and the victim and another student were not sent to hospital for another 36 minutes. Despite the findings that the laboratory safety system and training at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology were insufficient, the inquiry has refused to address the issue of responsibility. The report of the first phase of the inquiry found the postgraduate student, Richard Leung Wai-cheuk, 25, and his colleagues were not told of the spill. Thinking that he was moving away from the spill, Leung had headed to the site and spent several minutes there to wash his eyes irritated by the fumes. A supervising professor said he had had no time to warn the students of the accident and regretted having failed to do so. Security had been informed almost half an hour after the spill and the inquiry team said the intervening delay was 'too long'. A postgraduate had unwittingly kept working in his room until after the spill had been cleaned up - emerging to find himself inside a cordoned off area. The inquiry chairman, Associate Pro-vice-chancellor Professor Peter Dobson, said: 'We obviously cannot be satisfied with our system because it failed in this case.' Professor Dobson said if the coroner found the university had been negligent, it would 'have to accept institutional responsibility'. But asked if anyone would be disciplined for any negligence found, he said: 'I don't think the actions of any individual on this case were of the type where you would say that the person was responsible and should be blamed for this. 'I would regard that is trying to find a scapegoat for this incident rather than addressing it seriously . . . If it was as simple as blaming someone, then we would not have the strong motivation that we feel to try to improve the safety that we have.' The report said several students recalled that the victim had complained about the lack of any warning. Leung's father, Leung Yan, 63, said his son should have been told to leave. The family said legal action would be considered if the university was found to have been negligent. The report said that at around 11 pm on April 4, research assistant Xia Haiping was squatting in front of a solvent cabinet under the fume cupboard in laboratory room 7147. The doors of the cabinet were open. He apparently used the cabinet to steady himself as he rose, and the cabinet tipped forward at a significant angle. Several bottles fell out. Two broke, spilling acryloyl chloride and methacrylic anhydride on the floor. Mr Xia's eyes were watering and he was coughing seriously when he reported to his supervising professor, Dr Jia Guochen, who was working with three postgraduates, including Leung, in room 7139. Dr Jia hurried out with Mr Xia to a public corridor to get some fresh air. As the pair left without saying anything, the postgraduates noticed a chemical smell. Leung asked his colleagues to leave and he headed to the service corridor to warn others to get out of the area. He headed away from room 7139 as he thought the source of the fumes was in a refrigerator near that room. He went towards the end of the corridor, taking him towards the spill in room 7147. By this time, he was suffering severe eye irritation and coughing, and decided to enter 7147, a laboratory he was familiar with, to use the sink to wash his eyes. Leung and the other students left the laboratory floor only about 11.22 pm and the emergency ventilation system was activated at 11.16 pm. The ambulance took Leung to hospital at 11.58 pm. He died the next evening. The inquiry team's second phase will review the laboratory safety system, including chemical storage, evacuation procedures, and safety training for students and research assistants, which the professor said was 'obviously insufficient'. The police will submit a report to the coroner.