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Wednesday October 5, 2011

Giant crane falls on pre-war house

GEORGE TOWN: One person died while three others were injured when a seven-storey-high crane tower at a construction site toppled and fell on a pre-war house.

Bachelor Liang Yit Kwang, 65, who was believed to be sleeping on the second floor of the house, died after he was buried in the debris.

The other three who sustained injuries were Luar Chooi Guan, 77, his wife Chew Hong Choo, 76, and their son, Seong Ean, 55. Two other houses also sustained damage.

Firearms and documents kept at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) office in Sri Bahari Road here were shifted to the state police contingent headquarters after the crane tower damaged its building, too.

A giant comes to grief: A seven-storey-high crane tower lying on its side after toppling over and crashing onto three pre-war houses in Penang early Tuesday. -MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

State MMEA enforcement chief Kapt Maritime Robert Teh Geok Chuan said the items were shifted at about 5am on the directive of the Fire and Rescue Department after rumbling sounds were heard in the six-storey building.

“The rented building houses about 60 personnel. Now, we are looking for a government agency to offer us space to operate temporarily,” he said here yesterday.

The crane was installed at the site to construct a 20-storey hotel.

State Department of Occupational Safety and Health director Mohd Anuar Embi said no structure had been erected at the site although the crane was installed in June.

Meanwhile, police directed residents and shop owners living nearby to evacuate as the toppled crane was being dismantled.

Penang deputy chief police officer Senior Asst Comm Datuk Abd Rahim Jaafar said the case was being investigated under Section 338 of the Penal Code for committing a rash or negligent act that could endanger human life and Section 304 (a) of the Penal Code for causing death without intention.

Close shave: Firemen rescuing Luar from his house.

Luar, who has been warded at the Penang Hospital, thanked God for “sparing” his life.

He said his family, which was in the business of making iron grilles, had been renting the double-storey house for the past 12 years.

Luar's daughter Ai Lay, 47, said she was saddened by Liang's death.

“He was a master craftsman and had been working with us for over 30 years,” she said.

State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow's special assistant Teh Lai Heng said the Penang Municipal Council had sealed the accident site pending further investigations.

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