Truck blast caused by sparks igniting petrol fumes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 1997, 12:00am

Sparks from loose mechanical parts triggered Monday's huge explosion in Wong Tai Sin after petrol vapours reached saturation point inside a cargo container carrying 159 used motorcycles, police said yesterday.

'There was no ventilation inside the container. All it took was a spark for the petrol vapours to go off,' a police district spokesman said.

The news came as senior transport and fire services officials held an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the explosion and look into ways to prevent similar accidents.

Both departments admitted the accident fell outside the Dangerous Goods Ordinance and various traffic regulations governing cargo transport.

Three people nearby were slightly hurt when the explosion ripped open the top of the container in Lung Cheung Road and sprayed motorcycle debris up to 120 metres into the air.

The blast overturned another truck travelling in the opposite direction.

Democratic Party legislator and Legco transport panel member Lee Wing-tat said prevention rested with education rather than legislation.

'There are more than 20,000 cross-border trucks and many more within Hong Kong moving on the road every day. Even if you have the law, it's too complicated to enforce it,' he said.

Institute of Transport Administration secretary Samuel Tang Wah-kam agreed. 'Packing is often done carelessly so cargo contents are not held firmly,' he said.

'Also, truck drivers are frequently unaware of what they are carrying. These matters need to be changed for future safety.' Cheuk Yu Container-Transport, the company that owned the truck in the accident, refused to comment.