Mudslide buries house at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, caretaker feared dead

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 1997, 12:00am

A 73-year-old caretaker at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery was feared dead last night after 400 cubic metres of mud and trees buried her house.

Ma Shuk-fong was reported missing by relatives after the slide at about 6 am near her brick house behind the Goddess Temple in the Sha Tin monastery.

Ho Pui-king, 78, who lived a few houses from Ms Ma, said she was woken by thunder. 'As I tried to go to her place, I saw big rocks and a tree had fallen on her house,' she said.

A team of more than 40 fire services officers, police and experts from the Civil Engineering Department worked throughout the day trying to remove the mud.

New Territories Chief Fire Officer Lam Chun-man said the house's hilltop location, the heavy rain and lack of equipment had slowed progress.

Officers could not bring heavy equipment along the narrow path and firemen had only spades to work with, he said.

They had to stop work whenever there was heavy rain because of the danger of more landslides.

Mr Lam said a device to detect signs of life had received no signals, probably due to the thick mud.

Ms Ma earned about $1,000 a month caring for the temples and the Buddhist statues at the monastery. She started work a year ago today.

Ms Ho and about six other workers living nearby escaped to a temple down the hill.

She said the monastery had maintained the slope regularly, but the continuous rain in the past two months had worried tenants. Monastery personnel were not available for comment.

Flooding had left about 103 people homeless, the Home Affairs Department said. Forty-one were from Sha Tin and the rest were mainly from Kwai Chung and Tsuen Wan.