After the collapse...

After the collapse...

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scmp staff
Lai Ying-kit talks to youngsters about life after the tragedy in To Kwa Wan

Living in a modern city like Hong Kong, it's hard to imagine a building being reduced to rubble within seconds. But not anymore. Four people died and 20 families were left homeless following the collapse of a five-storey block in To Kwa Wan last month.

Young Post talked to a number of students from a nearby school and young residents in the district. We asked them how the tragedy had affected their lives. The collapse of the 55-year-old complex on Ma Tau Wai Road is a wake-up call for residents in To Kwa Wan which has many old buildings.

Officials have agreed to carry out emergency inspections on at least 4,000 old buildings across Hong Kong, with a special emphasis on illegal structures.

But local residents are still worried that their buildings may fall apart one day, and some are thinking about moving out.

Some students from PLK Ngan Po Ling College - located about 300 metres from the collapsed building - say they take a different route to school now. The students say they are worried that bits and pieces from the rundown buildings could fall and hit them.

Cherry Chan, 18, resident and student from nearby school

'Many of our schoolmates go to the restaurants next to the collapsed building for lunch. The building collapsed during lunch time. My teachers were worried that some students might be in the area. They rang up to make sure we were fine.'

Tiffany Ho, 18, resident and student from nearby school

'My flat is in a newer building in To Kwa Wan, and the old buildings are in the adjacent street. I have to walk under the old buildings every day. I hope safety checks will begin soon to avoid a repeat of the tragedy.'

Eugene Chan, 18, student from nearby school

'I used to get off the bus opposite the accident site and walk a few blocks to school every day. Since the collapse, I've been taking a taxi to school to avoid the old buildings. They are as old as the one that collapsed. I fear they might not be safe. When I go out for lunch, I avoid the old areas even if I have to take a longer route.'

Suei Lau, 18, student from nearby school

'I often visit my old friends from secondary school here and I pass through the area with old buildings quite often. There are so many old buildings here you cannot always avoid them. The accident has made people more aware of the safety of old buildings.'

Rachael Ma, 16, resident

'My flat is just a few blocks away from the building that collapsed. And my block is about the same age as that building. My family has started thinking about moving. I am a little worried about my safety, even though I am attached to this district because I grew up here. But the accident tells me it's time to rethink our tenancy. There must be thorough maintenance and renovations if we are to stay. Otherwise, there will be a huge, hidden danger to residents.'

Christopher Fok, 17, resident

'I feel very sad about the accident. The site is quite near my flat, which is also in a building some 40 or 50 years old. There are long cracks on some corridor walls, and the stairs are worn out. Building owners here must take maintenance seriously.'

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