Investigation into industrial accident on Austin Road West taken over by Yau Tsim District police as afternoon site inspection occurs


24th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) In a tragic incident at Austin Road West in West Kowloon, two male workers in their sixties have died suspected due to inhalation of high levels of hydrogen sulfide. According to reports, the two workers entered a pipeline as early as 10am on the previous day (23rd) without the completion of a safety assessment, allegedly due to the negligence of the project manager. The incident came to light approximately 21 hours after the workers entered the pipeline, unveiling the horrifying tragedy yesterday morning (24th). The case has been taken over by the Yau Tsim District Serious Crime Unit for investigation. Several detectives arrived at the scene today (25th) at 12.45 pm to conduct inquiries, with the assistance of an MTR Corporation staff member. After spending about an hour at the construction site, the police departed. It is understood that the investigators have not been able to access the accident site for investigation and have not taken any evidence or photographs. Later, the police will hold a meeting with representatives from MTR Corporation and the Labour Department to gather further information about the incident.

The incident took place in an underground pipeline at 1 Austin Road West in West Kowloon Cultural District and was related to the replacement project of the cooling water supply pipe for “Elements” air-conditioning system. Yesterday morning (24th) at around 7am, the police received a report of two male workers collapsing inside the pipeline. Both individuals in their 60s were plumbers and had entered the underground area for maintenance work at around 10am on the previous day (23rd). However, the project manager suspected that the safety procedures were incomplete and left the site. When he returned to the scene at around 4pm, he couldn’t find the two workers. Approximately an hour later, another member of the construction team attempted to locate the missing workers but found the pipeline locked, so he left. The families of the victims became concerned when they didn’t return home overnight and contacted the company for information. The following day, other workers discovered the two men unconscious inside the pipeline, prompting them to immediately alert the authorities.

Upon arrival, the police and firefighters conducted an examination and found high levels of hydrogen sulfide at the scene. The two workers were suspected to have suffered from hydrogen sulfide poisoning and were in a state of unconsciousness, requiring the use of an automated external defibrillator for resuscitation. They were rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment but unfortunately could not be saved. The case has been classified as an industrial accident, and the exact cause of death will be determined after post-mortem examinations. The police are currently continuing their investigation into the cause of the accident.