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Falling windows ‘not uncommon’

Minister reveals 216 reports received between 2016 and 2018 of incidents involving older buildings
A falling hotel window that killed a young woman in the city last month was not a freak occurrence, with a
government minister revealing yesterday that a pane had fallen every five days on average for the past three
years.
Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun reported the figure to the Legislative Council, adding that about
59,000 notices ordering building owners to inspect their windows had been ignored, at least one of them for six
years.
Last month, a 24-year-old woman from the mainland was killed by a window that fell from a 16th-floor hotel room
at The Mira Hong Kong in the busy shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui, adding urgency to the issue of window
safety.
In a written reply to architectural sector lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen, Wong said that between 2016 and 2018,
the Buildings Department received 216 reports of falling windows involving private buildings aged 10 years or
older. But he said the department did not keep figures on related casualties.
Private blocks aged more than 10 years fall under a mandatory window inspection scheme launched in 2012. And Wong
said about 59,000 – or 12 per cent – of 500,000 notices sent out to 9,843 buildings had not been complied with.
The statutory notices require the owner to appoint a qualified person to inspect the windows and supervise
repairs if needed.
“Among the non-compliant cases, the longest overdue period is about six years,” Wong said.
In response to the non-compliant cases, the Buildings Department had issued 3,700 fixed penalty notices for a
fine of HK$1,500.
Wong said the Buildings Department had exercised its statutory authority on behalf of the owners of more than 70
buildings to carry out inspection and repair of windows in the common parts of their buildings.
“Up to now, the Buildings Department has not instigated any prosecution for non- compliant notices, but is
planning to instigate prosecution actions against the more blatant cases,” Wong said.
Police arrested a hotel worker in connection with last month’s fatal incident. The female cleaner had been
granted bail as officers needed more time to look into maintenance records and gather evidence.
Anyone who drops an object or allows it to fall, causing danger or injury to a person in or near a public place
is liable to a fine of HK$10,000 and six months in jail.
If the falling object causes injury or death, the victim or their family members may also claim compensation
against the owner through civil proceedings.
The mandatory window inspection scheme was introduced in 2012 after a spate of window-falling incidents more than
a decade ago that heightened concerns over the dangers of ageing buildings to public safety.