Officials plead with residents in homes at risk from landslides, floods A score of residents in four Tai O villages threatened by further landslides left their homes reluctantly yesterday, with some fearing they might never be allowed to return. The evacuation came as the threat of more heavy rain over the weekend raised fears that weakened slopes above Tai O San Tsuen, Nam Chung, Fan Kwai Tong and Hang Mei could collapse further. Of the 21 villagers moved out yesterday, 13 people from six families were moved to vacant flats in Lung Tin Estate, Tai O, while the rest went to stay with family and friends. Home Affairs officers, social workers, police and Civil Aid Service officers visited each of the affected houses in the morning and persuaded the occupants to leave. Retired teacher Sung Sze-wai, who has lived in Tai O San Tsuen for 25 years, refused to leave when Home Affairs officers approached her on Thursday night. But she reluctantly changed her mind yesterday and left her house amid heavy rain. 'I know how to protect our place but I am not well prepared this time,' said Ms Sung, whose neighbours, two teachers at a Tai O school, had also agreed to leave. She packed some clothes and valuables and took her bicycle as well, but had no time to pick up her pet turtle. 'I need an assurance that I will be allowed to come back to pick up more stuff. And actually you don't have to call so many people to help me,' she told Byron Lam Saint-kit, the Islands District officer who visited each of the villagers requiring evacuation. Ms Sung was allocated a flat on the ninth floor of Lung Tin Estate, free from any landslide threat and overlooking the Tai O River. 'I hope I won't be here for long,' she said. Furniture, beds, sheets, chairs, cooking utensils and other daily necessity were shipped to Tai O yesterday to help the villagers. While Ms Sung left, Mrs Luk, 79, refused the offer of safe relocation. Mr Lam virtually begged her to evacuate yesterday morning, saying: 'Think about your children and grandchildren. They also want you to be safe. This is going to be a temporary departure and you can come back whenever the rain stops and sun shines again.' But Mrs Luk told him to leave her alone. 'Once I step out of this village, will I be allowed to return?' she asked as she took temporary refuge in a friend's safe home in the village. Mrs Luk's son, who lives in Tai Po, finally got his mother to come to his home in the afternoon after 30 minutes of pleading. 'I had no idea she had been asked to evacuate until I found out this morning,' he said, adding that it was the first time in 50 years his mother had left her home. Many of the evacuees said they regarded their temporary housing as a night shelter for trouble-free sleep. Chan Hong, who lives in Nam Chung, took a nap at his house yesterday afternoon after promising to leave yesterday morning. 'I will only spend the night at the flat, and I will come back to my place during the day. As you can see, there are still people helping clean up the place outside my home.' While he wanted to guard home and property, he believed the chance of theft was minimal. Another Nam Chung evacuee, Mr Hung, returned to feed his dogs yesterday after getting the keys to his temporary home on Lung Tin Estate. 'How can I bring my two dogs with me now? But I think they will be fine,' he said. But Mr Chow, whose rundown village house inside Tai O town was affected by water seepage, hoped for a chance at relocation to a public housing flat. 'I hope they can also register me and offer me a safe place to stay,' he said. Meanwhile, Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng yesterday inspected damaged Keung Shan Road, the only way out of Tai O, which remained closed. She said the road was being repaired as quickly as possible and a single lane might be reopened once emergency repairs were completed. It was reported yesterday that the access road linking Tai O and Ngong Ping and Sham Wat Road will reopen today. With roads still blocked, officers continued to transport food to such remote villages as Keung Shan, Tai Long Wan and Sham Wat. During yesterday's rainstorm, a vacant brick house collapsed in Tin Shui Wai but no one was injured. Strong winds also toppled a bus stand in Wong Chuk Hang Road, injuring a man. A 20-metre tree on Castle Peak Road also fell over.