3 dead, 41 injured in explosion

Suspected gas leak at soon-to-be-opened outlet triggers blast at CityONE Megamall

Firemen sift through the rubble at the scene of the blast at CityONE Megamall. – Bernama photo

KUCHING: A gas explosion ripped through a yet-to-be opened fast food outlet at CityONE Megamall in Jalan Song, killing three people and wounding 41 others – 10 seriously – here yesterday.

Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) director Khirudin Drahman said the incident occurred on the ground floor of the four-storey complex when contractors were busy doing final touch-ups to the outlet for its grand opening, which was supposed to take place today (Dec 5).

Rescuers carry the dead out from the blast site.

“Of the 41 victims who survived the blast, 10 suffered serious injuries while the remaining 31 victims suffered from burns and minor injuries. All the victims were rushed to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) and two private hospitals for medical attention.

“The explosion is believed to have been caused by a leak in the gas pipeline. We are still investigating to determine the exact cause of the blast,” he told reporters at the scene.

Civil Defence Force personnel carry the body of one of the victims to a police vehicle. 
— Photo by Chimon Upon

The deceased have been identified as O Kui Lim, 49, from Jalan Kangking in Batu Kawa; Chin Hsien Loong, 29, from Butterworth, Penang; and Tchee Kiam Jong, 24, from Taman BDC Stutong. It is believed they were killed by falling debris.

Civil Defence Force personnel stand watch over the bodies of the three victims.

It is learnt that of the 10 seriously injured, nine are warded at SGH while another at a private hospital.

Immediately following the blast, the entire mall was evacuated for safety reasons as firemen, police, Civil Defence Force and medical personnel rushed to the scene.

With dozens of injured survivors being attended to outside the mall, rescuers headed to the blast site, where partition walls and roof had collapsed, and began sifting through the rubble where they discovered three bodies along with several more injured survivors.

Injured survivors await medical assistance outside the mall.

Meanwhile, a blast victim, who wished to be identified only as Benny, said he was installing a drinks equipment in the outlet when the incident occured.

“It all happened so fast. All I can remember was that the partition walls collapsed. There were about 20 people near the area.

“I was momentarily in a daze but quickly made my way out. I’m lucky to only sustain minor injuries, but there were those trapped in the debris who were not so fortunate,” he said.

Among those were present at the scene in the aftermath of the blast were Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.

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