One worker was killed, one was in a coma, and 13 others were injured when a suspended platform fell Friday (Oct. 26) at the site of a mega-bridge being built off Hong Kong.
The $10.7 billion project, which will include the world’s largest cross-sea bridge section, will connect Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau in Southeast Asia.
Construction has been underway for nearly three years, and the Chinese government has compressed the rest of the work schedule to meet the targeted 2016 opening date. Nevertheless, the government denied that schedule pressure factored into Friday’s accident.
|The Y-shaped bridge will connect Hong Kong, Zhuhia and Macao. About 35 of its 50-kilometer length will be over the sea, making it the longest cross-sea bridge in the world, officials say.|
The accident occurred at the site of an artificial island being built near Hong Kong’s Lantau Island for the mega bridge. Steel drums at the site will be sunk to the seabed, drained of seawater, and then filled with concrete to form the island’s foundations.
The island will have cargo, inspection and passenger clearance facilities.
Accounts differed over Friday’s accident, which killed Tam Chung-pong, 58; put Lam Yuet-piu, 35, in a coma; and left two other workers serious condition at Hong Kong hospitals. Two others remained hospitalized in stable condition; the rest of the crew was treated at local hospitals and released.
|The project involves building an artificial island to support the mega-bridge.|
Highways Department director Lau Ka-keung told the Hong Kong Standard that the workers were “resting” on a suspended platform inside a huge upright metal tube when the platform gave way.
Activist groups, however, said the workers had been working and were struck by metal objects and construction materials when the platform gave way.
Chan Kam-hong, president of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, told the Standard that the victims had been raising the temporary platform when it gave way about 10:30 a.m.
He said part of the lifting gear on the platform broke, “and the remaining equipment broke one after another,” the newspaper said.
Numerous fire engines and ambulances were dispatched to Lantau, to bring the 15 workers ashore. Two were unconscious.
Chan Kam-hong, president of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, said the victims were working at the time of the accident. He said they were raising the temporary platform but it gave way at about 10.30 am.
|A victim is rescued from the scene. The government denied that an accelerated project schedule factored in the accident.|
Chan said the platform plunged three meters after one bit of lifting gear broke and the remaining equipment broke one after another.
The project’s general contractor is China Harbour Engineering Company, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, a massive infrastructure concern owned by the Chinese government.
The contractor and the government said they were investigating the accident. The contractor gave HK$100,000 (about $13,000 US) to the deceased victim’s family after the accident.
Lau told the Standard that the project was already requiring more workers and equipment than expected to meet the project deadline. The project was already expected to use up to 800 workers at one time.
“Even so,” he added, “we will not ignore the safety measures at the work site. The implementation of safety initiatives by workers at the site is of top priority.”