Construction workers plunge 56 floors

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Hong Kong - Two construction workers in Hong Kong plunged 56 storeys to their deaths on Tuesday, fire authorities said, after the scaffolding they stood upon snapped in half.

The accident took place as the pair renovated a residential building in the upscale Mid-Levels neighbourhood of the former British colony, one of the world's most vertical cities known for its strong safety record.

“When fire officers arrived, the gondola (suspended scaffolding) at the 56th floor was broken. Half of it had fallen to a platform around five or six storeys from the floor,” a Hong Kong Fire Services Department spokesman told AFP.

He confirmed that there was one male and one female victim, but had no other information about their identities.

“We located one dead person on the platform and the other person was found dead at a drain nearby,” he said, adding that a man on the ground sustained injuries to his hands when struck by falling debris.

Hong Kong police said they are investigating the incident.

Construction-related accidents are relatively uncommon in Hong Kong where last year 24 workers died while doing their jobs, according to the Hong Kong Federation of Occupational Safety and Health Associations.

But with eight fatal construction-related accidents already so far this year, the group's president Victor Kwong said safety is an area of “growing concern”.

“There is more and more renovation work in Hong Kong which has many old buildings. The safety regulations are in place but are not always enforced,” he said.

Kwong added that it is time for contractors to improve safety procedures and awareness at work, including practical training for employees.

Hong Kong Labour Minister Matthew Cheung said the number of deaths related to construction this year is of “high concern”.

“We're very concerned about this very serious accident which resulted in two deaths,” he told reporters, conveying his condolences to the families of the deceased workers.

A construction worker was killed and 14 others injured in Hong Kong in October 2012 after they were hit by falling steel rods at the building site for a massive bridge connecting the city with the neighbouring cities of Macau and Zhuhai. - AFP


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