Ma Tau Wai - Collapse of Building At 45 Ma Tau Wai Road (2010)

Collapse of Building At 45 Ma Tau Wai Road (2010)

On 29 January 2010, Block J of 45 Ma Tau Wai Road, a rundown five-storey residential building, collapsed with little warning, resulting in the deaths of four people. The event took place at around 1:30pm. Renovation work was being carried out on the commercial unit located on the ground floor of the building, when construction workers noticed signs of an imminent collapse and rushed out to raise the alarm. It is speculated that the unauthorised renovation was the primary factor that led to the collapse of an already decaying and structurally weak building. Some of the residents were alerted by the commotion and evacuated seconds before the entire building caved in. A squad of fireman arrived at the scene just as the disaster unfolded, having received an emergency call from a passer-by prior to the collapse. Several hundred emergency workers were deployed in the ensuing rescue operation, which had to take place under adjacent buildings that were themselves subject to collapse at any moment. Temporary reinforcements were erected to support and stabilise the remaining structures to give added protection to the rescue teams.

The Chief Executive Donald Tsang later visited the site to inspect the rubble.

A repair order had been issued by the authorities months before, but at the time of the inspection, the extent of the symptoms did not indicate the gravity of the situation. The walk-up building, which was 55 years old, was the last block in a group of ten identical buildings. Each floor housed four apartments of around 150 square feet (14 square metres), which in some cases were further partitioned by their owners. Residents in the adjoining blocks were subsequently relocated to temporary shelters in the immediate aftermath and then on to interim housing at public estates. This type of building is typical of many over the territory.

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