Baguio Villa now safe, say victims of mudslide

THE Baguio Villa residents forced out of their homes last year by a massive mudslide are now convinced they live in ''the safest place in Hongkong''.

Despite the horror and the upheaval in the aftermath of the Pokfulam landslip which killed two people in the estate on May 8, most moved back to their flats as soon as they could.

The people living in Blocks 43 and 44 had felt their building shake as tonnes of mud smashed into it, swamping flats as high as the third floor and killing seven-year-old Brendan Murphy in his Block 44 ground floor flat. Government engineer Mr Lau Mei-hing, sent to investigate blocked drains, was also killed.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated and families who lived in the affected Baguio Villa civil service quarters were accommodated in hotels.

But many residents say they have no fear there will be a similar disaster this rainy season.

They are confident the slope stabilisation measures taken after the disaster will protect them.

Mrs Catherine Arnold was having a shower in her fourth-floor flat when the mudslide hit last year.

''Now whenever it rains there is someone out the back checking everything is all right - this is the safest place in Hongkong.'' Mr Bob Nicoll's family was unable to return to their Baguio Villa flat until just before Christmas.

''We are happy to be back and we are not really concerned,'' he said.

Legislative Councillor and Baguio Villa resident Dr Huang Chen-ya said owners had been very concerned last year, but their fears had been laid to rest by the remedial action of the Government.

Families in 11 of the 101 Baguio Villa flats reserved for senior civil servants have left their homes since May 8, but these flats, including the Murphys' ground floor flat, have all been re-occupied.