Window falls from HK hotel, killing tourist below

HONG KONG • Windows fell off from buildings in two incidents in Hong Kong on Monday, with one of them killing a Chinese tourist on a street in the popular Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.

The 24-year-old tourist was shopping with her boyfriend when a window measuring 44cm by 130cm came crashing down from the 16th floor of the Mira Hong Kong hotel in Nathan Road and hit her on the head, Ming Pao reported.

She was taken to a hospital unconsciousness and later pronounced dead.

Her 36-year-old boyfriend suffered minor injuries on his left shoulder and was discharged from hospital after treatment.

Police arrested a Nepalese cleaner, 39, who they said used a key to unlock the window in a guestroom and pushed it outwards to open it before the aluminium window frame came off. Reports citing sources alleged that the cleaner had opened the window to dispel the stench of cigarette smoke in the room, although smoking is prohibited in the guestrooms.

Senior Inspector Chan Ka Ying from the Yau Tsim district crime squad said officers would check with the hotel to determine whether cleaning procedures required windows to be opened, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported. "We will look into other aspects such as the liability of parties like the hotel and its management," she said.

The Hong Kong Free Press reported that the cleaner was arrested under section 4B of the Summary Offences Ordinance, on suspicion of allowing an object to fall from a building to the danger or injury of any person in or near a public place. The offence carries a fine of HK$10,000 (S$1,735) and jail term of six months.

The tourist, who has not been named by the police, was not a guest at the hotel and had just arrived in the city from Foshan in southern China's Guangdong province on the same day. It is believed that the screws and rivets on the window had corroded, which led to the incident.

The Mira, owned by Miramar Group Hong Kong, offered its condolences and said it was helping police with investigations.

"We will make every effort to assist (the victim's) family," the hotel said in a statement.

The Mira Hotel made headlines in 2013 after it was chosen by whistle-blower Edward Snowden as his bolthole in Hong Kong after he fled the United States, reported Agence France-Presse.

SCMP reported that The Mira replaced its windows when it underwent a major renovation in 2009.

In a separate incident, a 50cm by 100cm window fell from a public housing flat in Tai Po in the New Territories around two hours after the Tsim Sha Tsui tragedy. No one was injured in the second incident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Window falls from HK hotel, killing tourist below'. Print Edition | Subscribe