The incident occurred on Wednesday morning at the Ching Ho Estate in Hong Kong's Sheung Shui district. Photo: WiNG/WikiMedia

What could have been an abhorrent suicide-manslaughter case was averted on Wednesday morning when a fast-acting teenager saved the day – and possibly her four younger siblings.

A 36-year-old woman shut herself in the kitchen of a public-housing condo in Hong Kong’s Sheung Shui district and turned on the gas, while her five children, aged between three and 15, were asleep.

Fortunately, the eldest daughter woke up, smelled the gas, found her mother lying unconscious in the kitchen and called the police. Constables and firefighters rushed to the rescue in time, and none of the children were seriously injured.

Police are investigating the incident, which occurred at the Ching Ho Estate, to ascertain whether ill-treatment or neglect of children was involved.

No arrest has been made so far. The woman remains in critical condition and the police are yet to take her statement.

It is said that the woman was recently pursued by friends who had lent her money and she decided to commit suicide after her husband left home for work early that morning, according to the Sing Pao Daily News.

It is also said that she had no intention to kill the children, as she used towels to seal off the door gap before opening the gas. Police are treating it as an attempted suicide that did not involve intent to cause any other deaths.

However, a gas explosion can pose a grave threat to people in nearby rooms, either from the impact of the blast itself or from collateral damage to walls, windows and doors.

Neighbors say the woman was known to be a doting mother who liked to travel with her children, and she was also in a good relationship with her husband.