Faulty part seriously corroded but not replaced during inspection A rusty pulley bearing was responsible for the accident in a Tai Po public housing estate in which a lift car crashed 14 floors to the ground, seconds after its last passenger stepped out of it. The bearing, atop the counterweight of the lift, was seriously corroded but was not replaced despite an inspection two months before the accident, according to a government report. At 7.21pm on October 25 it broke, setting the counterweight free and sending the lift on its plunge down the shaft in Shin Nga House, Fu Shin Estate, Tai Po. The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department has launched a further investigation under the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance into why the problem was overlooked and whether anyone should be held responsible. Department director Ho Kwong-wai said a prosecution would be launched if any offence was found to have been committed. An engineer of ThyssenKrupp Elevator, which took over the maintenance of the lift in August, inspected it on August 18 and pronounced it in safe working order. Tai Po district councillor Yam Kai-bong said residents had lost confidence in the company and called for it to be disqualified. Democratic Party legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo expressed disappointment that the report failed to pin down the party that should be held responsible. Releasing the report yesterday, Mr Ho said the accident was a rare occurrence. 'It should not have taken place and the rusty device should have been detected if proper inspection procedures had been strictly followed,' he said. He declined to comment further to avoid pre-empting the continuing investigation. He also promised to step up checks and publicity on lift safety, as well as tighten the existing codes of practice. The empty lift had ascended to the 14th floor, 55 seconds after taking a passenger from the 17th floor to the ground floor, when it plunged into the lift pit. When it fell, seven of its eight suspension cables broke. Laboratory tests confirmed the strength of the cables was up to standard, according to the department report, which found the 'seriously corroded' counterweight pulley bearing to be the immediate cause of the accident. The pulley broke and the counterweight was set free. Without the support of the counterweight, the lift car fell, the report said. The safety gear of the lift slowed it but failed to stop it from falling, partly because of the loosened suspension ropes. The lift car overshot the ground floor into the lift pit. A counterweight is often used in traction lifts to counterbalance the load of the lift car. The lift car and the counterweight both have pulleys attached to them to prevent irregular movement and provide a smoother ride for passengers. The government came under criticism for not disclosing the accident until it was revealed by the media 10 days after it happened. Yesterday Mr Ho promised to revise the current practice and make public serious lift accidents - those involving fatalities or serious injuries, failure of suspension ropes or safety gear - within 12 hours.