World

Three dead, four in critical condition after explosion in Kuching mall

KUCHING Three men were killed and several people injured in an explosion that rocked the CityOne mall in Kuching, Sarawak, yesterday afternoon.

Four people are in critical condition.

Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department chief Khirudin Drahman said two of those killed were from Sarawak and the third was from Penang, the Malay Mail reported.

FALL

"The three were killed when parts of the building fell on them," he told reporters at the scene.

Mr Khirudin said that two of the dead were employees of Nene Chicken, a fast-food restaurant, which was undergoing preparations for its opening scheduled for tomorrow.

He said 22 people were hurt in the explosion, which is believed to have been caused by a leaking gas cylinder.

Witnesses said the explosion caused the ceiling in a section of the mall to collapse, The Star reported.

A shop worker known only as Niedazaie said she heard a loud sound like an explosion some time after 3pm.

"It was very loud. At first I thought it was the weather but it sounded too loud.

"Then I felt some shaking and we were told to evacuate the building," she said.

A victim, who wanted to be known only as Benny, said he was installing beverage equipment when it happened.

"The wall fell and hit me. Everyone was in a panic," he said, adding that there were about 20 people in the vicinity at the time.

Local Government and Housing Minister Sim Kui Hian, who was at the scene, urged people not to speculate, the Malay Mail reported.

"We must be responsible and not spread unnecessary speculations on social media," he told reporters, referring to Facebook posts that the explosion was related to racial conflict.

WORLD