Contractor falls to death from platform

A CONSTRUCTION site contractor fell to his death in Shau Kei Wan yesterday when the platform he was working on collapsed, sending him plunging 10 metres to the ground.

So Tai, 40, was pouring concrete on the platform which linked a lift shaft to the building at Hing Tun Estate when it gave way at 2.40 pm.

The man's body was recovered at 12.20 this morning by firemen and taken to the mortuary, after lying for nearly 10 hours trapped but partially visible under rubble and concrete. Fire Services Department officials said recovering it had been difficult because of limited access.

The site was being developed for government housing by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

Mr So's relatives and friends gathered at the scene to pray as rescue workers battled to lift his body from the debris. One of his colleagues, Mr Wong, said he could see his friend's body lying below the platform.

'When I looked down all I could see was his elbow and head sticking out of the rubble,' he said.

'The rest of his body was covered in cement and debris.' Mr Wong said he feared Mr So's family would not receive compensation because he was a contractor and as such might not have been insured.

Secretary for Works James Blake said an inquiry would be carried out, probably by the Labour Department.

'We try to make sure that if there are any lessons to be learned then news will be sent to other contractors,' he said.

'I'm distressed to learn that we've had another fatal accident to deal with. The statistics in the past have been bad . . . an accident like this reminds us that everyone needs to pay full attention at all times to all aspects of safety.' The construction industry has been increasingly criticised for neglecting safety resulting in deaths.

Early last month, six pedestrians were killed at a Nathan Road demolition site when a wall fell on to a pavement, and one man died when a crane toppled over in Tsuen Wan.

Last year saw the territory's worst building site accident, when 12 workers plunged 17 floors to their deaths after overloading an industrial lift in North Point.