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The Deadly Landslides of Hong Kong in 1972
Kotewall Road Landslide
Who you were, what you did, where you lived, what used to matter, didn't seem important any more.
On 18 June 1972, it rained, and rained, and rained in Hong Kong. The low areas of the colony were flooded. The government announced landslide warnings. They suggested that all Hong Kong residents should stay indoor. They also urged residents living on and around insecure slopes to vacate their dwellings for temporary shelters provided by the government. I was eleven at that time. Everyone in the family was home, marooned by the rain and flooding waters. It was only a few years before that a fire had totally wiped out our hut. We moved into a resettlement estate established for the homeless thousands created by that fire. In our small flat that night, we were safe and sound. As there was nothing else to do, we had the mahjong out for a few family games. At the same time, we had the TV on. After only a couple of games, the TV programme was interrupted by a special boardcast of the news about two major landslides burying hundreds of people alive. One occurred at the huts nicknamed "Chicken Farm" at Sau Mau Ping, in the down-and-out part of the colony. The second occurred on Kotewall Road, Mid-Levels, where the Tai-Pans lived. We were all dumb-founded, not knowing what to think or say. The sound of mahjong games, once circling up the whole block, died down at the particular moment. Who you were, what you did, where you lived, what used to matter, didn't seem important any more. I remembered looking out the window and saw a withering leaf shakened up wildly by the rain, yet still clinging onto the branch. The next moment, it let go and was gone, leaving the bald twig behind.
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