Friday 21 August 2009

Chinese Cherry Picking

The following sentence sounds pretty lucky: “Eight [people] work at the "888" noodle shop in the basement of the Cameron Centre in Cameron Road” … until you realize these "lucky eight" were victims who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do people (i.e. numerologists, Chinese astrologists, Fung Shui practitioners, and those who believe in such Hocus Pocus) take notice of the “lucky” number eight in such negative situations? Clearly not. It is human nature that people only pay attention to “lucky” numbers that confirm their biases and will usually ignore any incidents that reject their predetermined view.

Related Post Chinese Fiddlesticks!

Reference (SCMP; subscription required)

10 ill after inhaling gas at noodle shop
Clifford Lo
Aug 13, 2009

Ten people at a Japanese-style noodle shop in Tsim Sha Tsui ended up in hospital yesterday when the ventilation system broke, raising carbon monoxide levels to 20 times the standard level.

Eight of the victims work at the "888" noodle shop in the basement of the Cameron Centre in Cameron Road. There was also one customer - a three-year-old boy - and a man who works in a ground-floor shop.

Last night a 27-year-old man was in serious condition in Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the others had been discharged.

Six fire engines, eight ambulances and a mobile casualty treatment centre were dispatched after the restaurant workers complained of inhaling gas and feeling unwell just before 2pm. Most said they felt dizzy or were having difficulty breathing. They were connected to oxygen masks after being carried into ambulances.

Police cordoned off a section of Cameron Road while firemen wearing breathing apparatus and carrying gas detectors were tracing the source of the gas. Shops at ground level were ordered to close until about 6pm.

Workers from the Drainage Services Department were called in to open the covers of nearby manholes to carry out checks. The Fire Services Department said there was a high concentration of carbon monoxide in the restaurant and an initial investigation showed it had been caused by a faulty ventilation system.

Lo Kam-wing, Tsim Sha Tsui fire station commander, said the level of carbon monoxide at one time was 20 times higher than the standard level.

"Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless gas. Inhaling the gas makes it difficult to breathe and you feel dizzy," he said.

A fire officer said the gas level was raised because there was no fresh air being pumped into the restaurant.

Choi Kin, former president of the Medical Association, said the percentage of carbon monoxide in fresh air was low and it would not have a fatal effect even if the level was 20 times higher than normal. However, inhaling large amounts could cause suffocation and brain damage.

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