Saturday, January 7, 2012

Four hurt in balloon blast

Electrician Yap Chee Keong sustained 17 degree burns during the explosion
Electrician Yap Chee Keong sustained 17 degree burns during the explosion. He was warded at the intensive care unit of the Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II in Kota Baru. Goh Hai BeePic by Zaman Huri Isa

FOUR men suffered burns, with three in a serious condition, when an advertising balloon containing inflammable gas burst into flames at the Jalur Lebar 1Malaysia carnival site here on Thursday.

In the 9.15pm incident, contract workers Muhammad Hanif, 16, K. Kalithasan, 22, and Yap Chee Keong, 30, suffered serious injuries. 

A villager, Mohd Nor Jusoh, 55, who also suffered burns, was referred to Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM) in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, but has been discharged.

Muhammad and Kalithasan were inflating the balloon when the incident happened at Jerteh Souq, where they were making preparations for the two-day carnival, which started yesterday.

They were admitted to the HUSM burn unit while Yap was warded at the intensive care unit of Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (HRPZ II), also in Kota Baru after being transferred from Besut Hospital.

Muhammad, who suffered injuries on his face, hands and body, said he and Kalithasan were using a gas cylinder to inflate the balloon when there was an explosion.

"We were busy with our work when the balloon exploded suddenly. 

"I believe there was a smoker in the crowd and the gas was ignited by the  cigarette.

"The only thing I knew was that we were both badly burnt and helpless before we were taken to the hospital," said Muhammad, who is from Sabah, when met  at HUSM yesterday. 

Yap from Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, said he was about 1.5m from the balloon when it suddenly exploded. 

"I was busy with electrical wiring works when I heard an explosion before feeling a wave of hot air coming from the  balloon.

"My immediate reaction was to block my face with my hands and they both suffered burns. Had I not shielded my face with my hands, it would have been worse," he said  at HRPZ II.

Yap, a wireman with Concert Leader Sdn Bhd, said he came to work at the carnival site with two  colleagues on Tuesday.

"This is the first time such a thing has happened to me.

"I hope to be transferred to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday where my family members live," said Yap, who is a bachelor.

A manager of a contractor appointed by the event organiser, Kenny Soo, said Muhammad, Kalithasan and Yap were employees of the contractor.

"They are from Kuala Lumpur and were about to set the balloon aloft. 

"We are unsure how the explosion happened," he said. 

However, the carnival went on as scheduled yesterday.

Rela officer Nik Masor Nik Soh said he was patrolling the area when the explosion occurred. 

He saw the four victims hit by the flames, screaming as they ran around trying to put out the flames.  

He said one of the victims, whose clothes and hair were on fire, ran towards him hoping to get assitance.  

"There was nothing I could do to help them as it happened so fast and I was so shocked by the explosion," Nik Masor said.  

It is learnt that two officers from the Department of Occupational Safety and Health had  visited the scene of the incident  to conduct  investigations. - NST

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