The organisers of a string of concerts by Canto-pop boy band Mirror are being investigated by the Labour Department over a possible breach of health and safety laws after a giant television screen fell on to the stage and critically injured a dancer, it was revealed on Sunday.
Officials said a bureau-level task force was expected to meet for the first time on Monday to probe the cause of the incident, which happened on Thursday night.
Investigations involving several government agencies were announced by a spokesman who outlined progress by the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau as performer Mo Lee Kai-yin, 27, remained in intensive care after two major operations on his spine in the neck area.
Lee is in danger of being left paralysed from the neck down.
The news came as Lee’s parents visited their son in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s intensive care unit through a special channel on Sunday morning, a few hours after they arrived from Toronto and tested clear for the coronavirus.
“The patient’s condition did not improve significantly after two rounds of surgery. The parents were fully informed of his situation by a team of doctors,” an insider said.
Dr Gladys Kwan, a chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said Lee remained in critical condition with a “stable” survival index.
The Labour Department’s investigation into concert organisers MakerVille and Music Nation involved whether “safety of staff was safeguarded”, joining police efforts to establish if there was professional negligence or other criminal liability.
Detectives from the Kowloon West regional crime unit, as well as officials from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and the government laboratory on Sunday visited the Hong Kong Coliseum, where the concert was held, to gather evidence.
“Given the huge environment inside, the government laboratory will use high technology, like 3D scan and other appliances to preserve the scene,” said the police unit’s Superintendent Alan Chung after the visit.
“Our probe will be detailed, multi-angled and comprehensive, and we only have one goal – to establish the truth.”
A government spokesman said the task force, supervised by the culture bureau’s minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, would work to identify the cause of the incident, as well as suggest and follow up on recommendations to “prevent a recurrence of incidents of a similar nature”.
The Post was told that the task force’s members included Louis Szeto Ka-sing, a former chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers’ mechanical, marine, naval architecture and chemical division.
The accident, said to be one of the worst of its kind in decades, happened on the fourth night of Mirror’s planned 12-part concert series.
Thousands of fans and viewers of online footage of the incident were left in shock after the massive screen crashed on to the stage and injured two dancers as Mirror performed one of their popular dance hits.
One of the unsolved questions about the tragedy is whether qualified professionals were involved in checking the wires connecting the giant screen and the ceiling and what kinds of inspections were carried out.
The Post examined the conditions of use for the venue and found that the manager must be informed if any additional electrical apparatus or fitting was needed or used in conjunction with existing electrical fittings.
Relevant electrical works should be only be carried out by registered electricians who are required to issue a work completion certificate.
In addition, no erection, installation, rigging or suspension of any structure or equipment shall take place without on-site supervision by appropriate qualified professionals.
The approval of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department must also be obtained.
The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department told the Post on Sunday that it had not participated in any stage installation approval process.
It said the concert’s stage lighting, audio and mechanical devices were installed by the organisers and the department was only responsible for the maintenance of the Coliseum’s electricity supply and other appliances.
Legislator and surveyor Tony Tse Wai-chuen said such appropriate qualified professionals were senior technicians recognised by the department.
“They don’t have to be registered engineers, but many event organisers would prefer to hire a structural, mechanical or electrical engineer to conduct safety checks because they could be more qualified,” he said.
He added that he hoped the inquiry would be completed soon and highlighted that electricity supplier CLP Power was asked to submit a preliminary report three days after a massive power outage in June.
Lawmaker Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, who represents the cultural and performing arts sectors in the city’s legislature, also appealed to the government to speed up the inquiry process, which he said he had been told by officials could take up to eight weeks.
He said that he would form an expert group to make recommendations to senior officials looking into the incident.
In a joint statement on Sunday, 23 dancers from the Mirror concert appealed to the public not to blame performers for the incident.
“The 12 members of Mirror and us all worked hard to perform, and we stand together amid this difficult time,” it said.
The dancers also emphasised that they had not made any anonymous comments on the internet about the incident and had not launched any crowdfunding campaigns for the injured performers.
The incident also prompted other performers to come up with backup plans for their shows, including Tyson Yoshi, a hip hop artist who will appear from Friday for four nights at Kitec Star Hall in Kowloon Bay.
“If the venue doesn’t allow our stage mechanics, we will think of another way of presentation,” he said on Saturday. “Plan B will have no mechanics. We still have a big screen but it is not suspended. It is located on the wall and it won’t move.”
Three subcontractors – Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company, In Technical Productions and Art Design And Production – who were named by the concert organisers have issued statements insisting they were not responsible for the massive screens and did not provide the wires they were suspended from.
The concert’s main contractor, Engineering Impact, said on Saturday the company would not release any information as the incident was still under investigation.
The company, established in 1985, described itself on its website as the city’s largest concert production and project management company.