A large wall collapsed at the former Central Police Station on Hollywood Road on Sunday night. The heritage site is set to be transformed into a culture and leisure hub and was scheduled to reopen later this year.
The collapsed 8m x 10m wall was a part of the old married inspectors’ quarters. Built between 1862 and 1864, it is one of the oldest buildings on the compound. The compound is a declared monument and comprises of three groups of buildings – the former Central Police Station, the former Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison.
The incident was reported to police at 10:09pm and the Fire Services Department received reports three minutes later. There were no injuries and no one was trapped, as the rescue mission ended on Monday morning.
Tong Chung-wai, acting divisional commander at the Fire Services Department, said eight fire engines, three ambulances and two urban search and rescue teams were deployed. Life detectors and rescue dogs were also used.
Hung Chi-kin, a senior building surveyor from the Buildings Department, said the roof and first and second floors of the brick and wooden structure collapsed. The cause of the incident was still under investigation and redevelopment work was halted on Monday.
The government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club announced a not-for-profit plan to fund the revitalisation of the Central Police Station compound in 2007. The work at the compound, commonly known as “Tai Kwun” or big station, was planned to be completed at the end of 2014, but was delayed until this year.
Shocked and concerned
The group Tai Kwun – set up by the Jockey Club to manage the project – said it was “shocked” by the incident.
“We are gathering information about the incident from the managing contractor who is on site. Police and Fire Services officers and officials of the Buildings Department are at the site,” it said in a statement.
It added that the group’s registered structural engineer and design engineer were on site assessing the situation.
“We are very concerned about this incident and will keep the public informed of the latest developments,” it said.
A Development Bureau document received by the Central and Western district council in May said that the married inspectors’ quarters building was in a “relatively poor condition” and it “may require more time for restoration”.
Central and Western District Councillor Ted Hui Chi-fung said the project was at the stage of signing contracts with shops ahead of its reopening, but the safety of the heritage compound is now in question.
“Every single building’s rehabilitation work must be conducted through strict standards, and must be approved by the Antiquities and Monuments Office – such a collapse was completely unacceptable,” he said.
Hui said he will demand the Central and Western district council review the safety of the site again, and demand the contractor Gammon Construction and relevant organisations provide answers.
He added that an investigation should be conducted by the Antiquities and Monuments Office, the Architectural Services Department and other departments into the quality of the construction work.