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Collapsed beams hampering recovery of four workers trapped below under-construction Penang building

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 29 — Rescuers are being hampered by the scale of collapsed beams in their efforts to reach four Bangladeshi workers believed buried in the rubble of a logistics warehouse that is under construction in Bayan Lepas here.

Penang deputy police chief Deputy Commissioner Datuk Mohamed Usuf Jan Mohamad said the work to shift beams using two cranes are 80 per cent complete.

“We hope we will be able to reach the four victims soon,” he told reporters at the site this afternoon under a blazing blue sky.

He said it is important to ensure the safety of the rescue team before continuing with search and recovery works.

Four migrant workers are believed to remain buried under tons of concrete after a beam collapsed last last night at the construction site, bringing down numerous other beams with it.

The beam that fell measured 12 metres long and weighed 14 tonnes. It knocked down 14 other beams on the site.

Rescuers at the site of the collapse in Bayan Lepas November 29, 2023. — Picture by Opalyn Mok
Rescuers at the site of the collapse in Bayan Lepas November 29, 2023. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

Rescuers at the site of the collapse in Bayan Lepas November 29, 2023. — Picture by Opalyn Mok

Mohamed Usuf said they have identified all Bangladeshi victims in the incident.

“We have the particulars of the victims, they are aged between 22 and 46 years old, we will release the details later,” he said.

In the 9.48pm incident yesterday, two workers were found dead at the scene, one died on the way to the hospital and two were seriously injured.

He said the two injured are currently being treated at the Penang Hospital.

There were 18 workers at the site with nine escaping unscathed as they had gone out for prayers during the incident.

Earlier, Mohamed Usuf accompanied Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Deputy Chief Minister I Prof Datuk Mohamad Abdul Hamid, state executive councillor H’ng Mooi Lye and Penang Island City Council Mayor Datuk A. Rajendran who were visiting the site of the collapse.

Fire and Rescue Department staff on site in Bayan Lepas to lend a hand in the search for four yet to be accounted for Bangladeshi workers believed to be trapped underneath tonnes of concrete rubble November 29, 2023 — Picture by Opalyn Mok
Fire and Rescue Department staff on site in Bayan Lepas to lend a hand in the search for four yet to be accounted for Bangladeshi workers believed to be trapped underneath tonnes of concrete rubble November 29, 2023 — Picture by Opalyn Mok

Fire and Rescue Department staff on site in Bayan Lepas to lend a hand in the search for four yet to be accounted for Bangladeshi workers believed to be trapped underneath tonnes of concrete rubble November 29, 2023 — Picture by Opalyn Mok

Rajendran said the council had issued a stop-work order for the project, which is a construction of a logistic warehouse, at 8.30am today.

He said internal and external investigations by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health and Malaysian Institute of Architects will be conducted first.

“We have to wait for these investigations to complete before making any decisions on further actions,” he said.

He said the project is scheduled for completion at the end of this year or early January next year, but it may be delayed after this incident.

“During investigations into this incident, work will not be allowed to continue,” he said.

Chow said the construction was allowed to be carried out round the clock as it was not located near any residential areas.

He said clearance for such permits are given by the city council depending on valuation by the council.