Narrow escape for German worker in tunnel ground collapse

Narrow escape for German worker in tunnel ground collapse

Colleagues pull buried technician to safety at Express Rail site

Danny Chung:


A German technician working on a site of the Express Rail Link project of the MTR Corporation (0066) was fortunate to escape with only minor injuries after earth collapsed in a tunnel.

The accident occurred last Thursday at a site in Lai Chi Kok belonging to one of the contracts for the 26 kilometre long Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

According to a report in the Sing Tao Daily last Friday, the 40 year old technician plus three assistants were in a tunnel 30 metres below ground level when the ground suddenly collapsed and engulfed the German.

Fortunately his colleagues who had managed to run out of harm’s way pulled him to safety immediately with only minor injuries to the shoulders and feet.

Police were quoted as saying the German had been working at a pile found in the tunnel.

The pile was apparently in the way of a tunnel boring machine (TBM).

On receiving a report of the accident, police and fire services personnel, including those from the elite Urban Search and Rescue Team, rushed to the site, only to be told that the injured person was already safe.

After allowing for decompression time prior to returning up to ground level, the injured German was taken to Caritas Hong Kong Hospital for further treatment.

The Sing Tao story said afterwards Fire Services Department, Labour Department and other government departments launched an investigation into the accident including looking into why there was a “mysterious” pile at the site.

The exact location of the accident and the pile within the tunnel is not known.

At the West Kowloon Reclamation, apart from piles belonging to buildings, major infrastructure such as large box culverts also used piles in their foundations.

The Lai Chi Kok site on 13 June 2013   (Danny Chung)

The Lai Chi Kok site on 13 June 2013 (Danny Chung)

According to notice boards on site, the main contractor is French contractor Dragage-Bouygues Joint Venture.

The MTRC awarded Contract No. 820 – Mei Lan Road to Hoi Ting Road Tunnels to the joint venture in May 2010 for HK$3.67 billion.

The section of the rail link in Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po and Yuen Long districts is being constructed by tunnel boring machines, according to the MTRC’s project website for the Express Rail Link.

A mixed ground TBM is being used on the section of Mei Lai Road to Hoi Ting Road, in particular a slurry mixed shield TBM, as it is suitable for reclaimed land and densely populated areas.

MTRC, Labour Department and Dragages Hong Kong did not respond immediately to requests by Construction Post for further information.

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