Passengers on a Cathay Pacific flight had the fright of their lives when the door of a plane they had just boarded was ripped off by a falling boarding bridge.
The bridge then smashed into another bridge at Chek Lap Kok International Airport, injuring a technician.
The Airport Authority said the use of all rear bridges connected to the terminal will be suspended for further checks.
Flight CX532 was scheduled to leave Hong Kong for Nagoya, Japan, at 4.10pm from Gate 71 at Terminal 1.
However, the flight was delayed until 6.10pm due to an operational problem and it was then decided to use another aircraft.
After the 262 passengers had boarded the second plane, the boarding bridge suddenly collapsed, trapping a technician who was still on it.
The bridge, which was connected to the first class cabin, pulled away from the aircraft and ripped off a plane door before slamming into the rear bridge connected to the economy class.
The 51-year-old technician, Yip Chun-po, an employee of Hong Kong Airport Services, suffered injuries to his head, waist and legs and was sent to Princess Margaret Hospital.
The boarding bridge landed on its side beside the aircraft with its wheels raised.
Firemen climbed into the damaged bridge in case others were inside.
All passengers were immediately taken off the aircraft and into the terminal building.
A witness said the plane was ready to move to the runway when the bridge collapsed. Li, a tourist going to the mainland, said she was not worried until she saw photos of the collapsed bridge.
"It is ridiculous and crazy," she said. "I guess we will have to be careful."
Cheung, another tourist, said she is not scared and believed it was just an accident, adding: "I will take it calmly."
An Airport Authority spokeswoman said the collapse was due to a malfunction and that no passengers or aircraft crew members were on the bridge at the time.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said the A330 aircraft was slightly damaged and the flight has been rescheduled to 8.30am today.
She said affected passengers would be provided with hotel accommodation and meals.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University Department of Mechanical Engineering professor Lo Kok-keung said such accidents are rare.
"Judging from the photos, the first possibility is that there was a force from the side toward the bridge that caused it to collapse," Lo said.
"Since the boarding bridge is secured with only its wheels sitting on the ground, an object traveling at 20 kilometers per hour can topple it."
He believed the boarding bridge to be six meters above the ground.
"The second possibility is that the frame support of the boarding bridge is aged. If this is the case, the airport should replace the frames of all the boarding bridges," he said.
As passengers must pass on a bridge before boarding an aircraft, bridges should be examined frequently, said Lo.