Emergency treatment: Rescuers carrying an unidentified woman on stretcher.
KUCHING: A powerful explosion in a fertiliser factory rocked Serian town, about 60km from here.
The impact of the explosion, brought down the factory building and shattered the glass panels of many nearby business premises, including a petrol kiosk some 500m away.
The shock waves caused by the blast could be felt a kilometre away.
It also toppled electric poles, damaged some vehicles and caused debris, some as big as a 50kg cement bag to rain on nearby buildings.
Twenty people, including eight workers at the factory, were seriously injured and were treated at the Serian District Hospital.
A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said three fire engines from the Serian, Siburan and Tabuan Jaya stations with 20 men rushed to the scene after receiving an emergency call at 3.05pm.
However, by the time they arrived about five minutes later, the building had started collapsing.
Saenie Kaja, 32, who was staying at the upper level living room of the factory said she was lucky to escape unhurt.
She said she and her three children – sons Justine Feehily, 10, and Jayden Beverly, six, daughter Stina Stifferly, four, and niece Jovena Jane Willian, four, barely escaped being trapped in the building when it crumbled to the ground.
She said if she had listened to someone advising her to remain in her room with the children, they could have been killed.
“The children were all playing in the living room when I heard a commotion at the ground floor.
“Then I saw the fire and there were explosions too, so I quickly gathered them and ran out,” Saenie said.
She said it was a horrible experience as she recalled at least four explosions that shook the walls around her even as the building started to collapse.
She said she was lucky as a fireman had grabbed her hands and guided her out of the collapsing building.
Before Saenie and the four children were rescued, fire fighters had already saved three seriously injured workers from the ground floor.
The factory owner, Liew San Kian, 48, was seen running out of the building, screaming just before the explosion.
The Fire Department is still investigating the exact cause of the explosion.