Malacca Fire and Rescue Department personnel leaving the Aeon Jusco mall after investigating the cause of explosion on Monday. - Starpix by A Malex Yahaya
MALACCA: The much anticipated grand opening of the largest AEON Jusco mall in the country here in Jalan Legenda in Bachang this Dec 17 is likely to be postponed following a fatal gas explosion that killed a 25-year-old supervisor while injuring 16 others on Monday.
The explosion was said to have happened at the food court section located on ground floor of the three-storey complex just before 1pm when workers and tenants were busy making final preparation for the opening.
The force of the blast blew a 2m hole in the building’s sidewall while showering glass and debris over a 25m radius before starting a small fire.
Firemen from the Kubu fire and rescue station, who arrived on the scene six minutes after receiving a distress call at 12.59pm, immediately put out a small fire and found two injured victims lying outside the building.
A search and rescue operation was mounted for other victims when it was learned that there were several others missing or trapped under the rubble.
Five victims were later pulled out alive from the rubble while another, Tiau See Peing, 25, a supervisor from Batu Pahat with Old Town White Coffee was found dead with a fatal neck wound cause by flying debris.
State Fire Departments operations deputy director R. Ezhumalai said the blast is believed to have been caused by a leak when workers were testing the gas meters from the centralised Liquid Petroleum Gas system.
“We believe that the explosion was due to a gas leak as victims mentioned the smell of gas shortly before the blast.
“Although there was a small fire, the injuries and damage were caused by the blast and flying debris,” he said when met at the scene here.
Initial investigations, he added, indicated the blast originated from a leak in the gas system near the food court next to the Food & Tea restaurant.
“We are still investigating to determine the exact location of the blast or what may have caused it,” he said, adding that several other victims were earlier rushed to the hospital for treatment.
At press time, seven victims were reported to have suffered serious injuries while three are said to be in critical condition at the Malacca Hospital. Six other victims received outpatient treatment.
Meanwhile, state human resources committee chairman Datuk Yaakub Md Amin said the Department of Occupational Safety and Health has been directed to investigate the blast.
Investigations will focus on whether the contractors had followed safety measures.
“Action will be taken against them if they had not done so, resulting in the explosion,” he said.
He added that it was fortunate that the blast happened before the opening of the shopping complex when there were fewer people around.
By MARTIN CARVALHO and CHEN PELF YEEN
Dipetik dari Star Online 14 Disember 2009