KUCHING, 5 Dec 2018:
A gas explosion at a new eatery at the CityOne Megamall here has claimed three lives and injured another 26 people in the incident which occurred at 3.30pm yesterday.
The incident was believed to have been caused by a gas leak during a welding process at the Nene Chicken restaurant that was scheduled to be opened today.
Rescue and search operations for victims were terminated at 9.27pm last night after no more victims were detected buried under the debris of the building’s structure using the Fire and Rescue Department K9 Canine Unit.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is also State Disaster Management Committee chairman, said the case would be handed over to the department to identify the cause of the explosion.
Kuching police have identified the three victims who died – when the building structure crashed on them during the incident – as O Kui Lim, 49, and Tchee Kiom Joong, 24, who were both from Kuching and another one, Chin Hsien Loong, 29, from Butterworth, Penang.
Two of the dead men were believed to be workers of Nene Chicken, which was making preparations for today’s opening at the time of the incident.
Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, when met at the scene, said he would seek the attention of the Human Resource Ministry for stricter guidelines for workers at the workplace as well regulations for employers to be complied with following the incident.
Preliminary investigation by the Fire and Rescue Department revealed the incident was believed to have been caused by a gas pipe leak at the premises being renovated.
In its Facebook account, CityOne Megamall had given notice the premises would be closed to the public with immediate effect until further notice following the gas explosion.
“From customer to contractor, we believe, human lives of the utmost importance and that they should be protected at all costs. We grieve alongside the families who have lost loved ones,” said Stephen Long Tine Chung, Director of Kenbest Sdn. Bhd, the developer of CityOne Megamall.
“At this point in time, we would like to focus our efforts on the needs of those affected and their families. Whether they need financial or emotional support, we want to be there with them.
“It’s always been our goal to serve this city that we love so dearly. Safety is an uncompromisable value that we uphold in all our operations, so this has come as a real shock to us.
“I would like to reiterate that no renovation work was going on at the point of explosion, but rather some minor touch-ups and preparation for the much anticipated opening of the restaurant.”
He said the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department has indicated other areas of the mall are safe to be in.
“CityONE Megamall has engaged a certified Structural Engineering Consultant to conduct a thorough walkthrough to confirm that the affected area is indeed safe before the mall is officially opened to the public.”