Three killed in mall explosion identified

A file photo of Bomba and Civil Defence Force officers checking the rubble and debris from the explosion site inside CityONE Megamall.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 4: The three victims who perished as a result of the explosion at CityOne Megamall here today have been identified.

They are Chin Hsien Loong, 29, from Butterworth, Penang, and locals Tchee Kiam Jong, 24, and O Kui Lim, 49.

The three were crushed by collapsed structures and other objects. Two were employees of the food outlet and the other was a maintenance personnel of the mall.

At least 25 people were injured — four seriously — when the explosion at a soon-to-be-opened food outlet rocked the mall at 3.37pm here today.

The four seriously injured individuals were rushed to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

Bomba and APM officers lifting a body to be transferred into a police truck to be sent to the hospital. Photo credit: APM.

State Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) director Khirudin Drahman said the explosion destroyed the shop on the ground floor and that the majority of the victims were shoppers and workers at nearby shops.

“Initial investigation shows that the explosion is caused by gas piping, but a detailed and thorough investigation will be conducted and confirmed by the authorities,” he told members of the press who had gathered outside the mall for updates.

“The new food outlet is supposed to be opened tomorrow. Its employees together with maintenance personnel from the mall were carrying out final test runs of the equipment (in the shop) when the explosion happened at 3.37pm.”

Remains of the three individuals killed being brought to a truck to be sent to the hospital. Photo credit: APM

Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters from Tabuan, Batu Lintang and Padungan fire stations discovered that 14 injured victims had been evacuated and were being assisted by members of the public outside the mall building.

“As seen from the CCTV (closed-circuit television), the impact from the explosion was strong, causing walls to collapse and debris to scatter all over,” said Khirudin.

At press time, Bomba rescue officers are still at the site to ensure no victims are trapped. The Civil Defence Force (APM) has also sent in their special squad that specialises in collapsed structure operations to assist in the search and rescue operation.

Meanwhile, CityONE Megamall has been closed to the public until further notice. — DayakDaily