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Hong Kong rescue services

Kennedy Town fire: man falls to his death from burning flat at Hong Kong public housing estate

Victim was discovered on stairs of footbridge nearby

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 11:05pm

A Hong Kong man fell to his death from a burning flat in the early hours of Friday.

The victim, 53, was a tenant and had been alone in the flat, according to police sources. It was possible he had fallen after climbing out of the window and officers were looking into whether this was an escape attempt or a suicide.

The body was found on the staircase of a nearby footbridge. The man appeared to have fallen through the shelter covering the bridge.

The fire broke out on the 41st floor of Block Two in Kwun Lung Lau public housing estate on Lung Wah Street, Kennedy Town, at about 5.20am.

Some 80 residents fled before emergency personnel arrived, and firefighters evacuated another 20 people. One man and one woman were sent to hospital.

“There was the sound of an explosion,” a female resident said. “I thought it was thunder. Then something fell onto my air-conditioning unit before the fire alarm sounded.”

When she called a security guard, she was told a fire had broken out upstairs.

A witness wrote on Facebook: “At 5.14am, I heard a ‘boom’. I thought it was a crash, but then lots of ambulances, police cars came. Then I knew it was a fire.”

Flames and dense smoke were seen coming out of the burning flat.

In total, 60 firefighters, 10 ambulances and four fire trucks were dispatched. Firefighters broke into the flat and put out the blaze shortly before 6am.

 

Police said that only the 41st floor of the building was still closed off, but dozens of residents remained outside.

A woman identifying herself as Man Man said she thought the fire alarm had gone off about five to 10 minutes late because she had seen and smelled smoke even before it sounded. She lives on the 43rd floor of the block.

“I don’t know what exactly happened, but I smelled smoke, so I was worried,” the resident said.

Deadly blaze raises questions about mental health support in Hong Kong

She and her mother walked down to the lobby in their pyjamas. She said there had been a lot of smoke as they passed the 41st floor.

Another resident surnamed Lo, living in the same block, carried her bird and three cats down from the 30th floor after hearing the fire alarm.

“See, they are still scared because I had to put them in the bags in a rush,” she said.

Fire services divisional officer Lam Yiu-sum said the department received an alert at 5.18am and emergency personnel arrived at the scene in five minutes. The fire was put out at 5.58am.

Lam added that the cause of the incident was still under investigation. The flat involved is about 300 sq ft in size, and there were signs of the fire in the living room and bedroom, although the blaze did not spread to neighbouring flats.

Addressing concerns about a delay in the fire alarm being sounded, Lam said the system at Kwun Lung Lau was manual.

“Firefighters arrived at the scene, broke the glass and activated the system to alert the residents for evacuation,” Lam said.