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December 11, 2012

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At least 2 of 3 buried in building collapse die

A FOUR-STORY building undergoing renovation collapsed yesterday afternoon, killing a man and a woman, while a third person was still buried in the rubble late last night.

A dead man was found in the rubble about 6:30pm. By 11:30pm yesterday, a second victim found two hours earlier and rushed to the hospital had been declared dead.

Dozens of firefighters were searching for the third victim buried 3 to 5 meters down in the collapsed building at 1158 Chenhang Road.

Firefighters said it appeared the last victim had a slim chance to survive - the person had been buried deep in the rubble for many hours.

Eight people managed to escape the building before it fell, witnesses said.

Some of the survivors were among a construction team, while others may be tenants in the building, witnesses said.

The building collapsed about 2:30pm when the construction team was carrying out interior renovation of the building, which was used as a garment factory.

The building, of some 200 square meters, collapsed after a witness said he saw workers smashing walls on the fourth floor with hammers and drills.

"There was then a huge bang and in a flash, heavy smoke rose up and filled the air," the witness said.

"Some of the people inside managed to run or climb out, but some were trapped inside."

Firefighters rushed to the scene and found the three buried people were still alive at the time, according to their instruments. They said they were removing bricks with their hands, and a heavy forklift truck was on its way.

The collapse didn't damage a kindergarten next to it.

The building belonged to a garment company but was rented out after it closed. The work began about one month ago while tenants were still living in the building.


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