Cleaner arrested after falling hotel window kills tourist

January 22, 2019 14:22
Police cordon off a portion of the pavement where a 24-year-old mainland woman was killed after she was hit in the head by a falling window from The Mira hotel on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui on Monday morning. Photo: RTHK

Police arrested a cleaner after a hotel window she was trying to open fell off and killed a mainland tourist walking down the street in Tsim Sha Tsui.

At around 10:30 a.m. on Monday, the cleaner, a Nepali, was tidying up a guest room on the 16th floor of The Mira hotel, which is owned and managed by Miramar Hotel and Investment Co. Ltd., a member of property developer Henderson Land Development Co. Ltd., the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Police said that as she was trying to open the 44cm x 130cm window to clean it, it suddenly got detached and plummeted down the building.

A woman who was walking on Nathan Road was hit right in the head by the falling window, causing her to fall to the ground unconscious with a lot of blood coming out of her head and glass shards around her on the pavement.

The victim was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where she was certified dead at 12:16 p.m.

Police said the victim, a 24-year-old tourist from Foshan in Guangdong province, had just arrived in Hong Kong that morning with her boyfriend, who was slightly injured and also admitted to the hospital's accident and emergency unit.

According to Senior Inspector Chan Ka-ying of the police's Yau Tsim district crime squad, the window in question fell when it was opened by the 39-year-old cleaner, who was later arrested on suspicion of allowing an object to fall from height and causing danger or injury.

Police would also investigate whether the hotel management and the owner of the building are liable for the incident, RTHK quoted Chan as saying.

Investigators initially sought to determine why the cleaner had tried to open the window. Chan said only staff could have keys to open the hotel’s windows.

Also, police wanted to know when the window was last put under inspection and maintenance.

Chan urged witnesses to come forward and provide information.

The Buildings Department said it has sent staff to the hotel to know more about what happened and inspect the other windows of the hotel, adding that it has not received any report regarding them being problematic or in need of maintenance before the incident.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said the cleaner might have violated Clause 4B of the Summary Offences Ordinance, which states that a person who drops a thing or allows it to fall from any building to the danger or injury of any person in or near a public place commits an offense and is liable to a maximum penalty of a HK$10,000 fine and six months' imprisonment.

Luk said even if the incident was “unintentional”, the cleaner could still be held liable.

He said the victim's family could seek compensation from the cleaner, her employer and the hotel operator through civil litigation.

Michael Li Hon-shing, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, expressed shock over the incident, adding that the group will remind all members that windows, whether old or new, must be checked regularly.

The Mira, which spent more than HK$400 million on a major revamp of its facilities in 2008, said in a statement that it was saddened by the accident and offered condolences to the victim’s family.

The hotel said it will provide all assistance to the victim’s family and fully cooperate with the police investigation.

The government began to implement the Mandatory Building and Window Inspection Scheme in June 2012, but windows falling from height still happened from time to time.

Several hours after the fatal accident at The Mira, a window also fell off a public housing estate building in Tai Po, but fortunately, no one was hurt.

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