Emergency evacuation as road caves in

DESPITE the danger of their homes collapsing after a large section of Lorong Gelugor caved in on Saturday evening, some residents are still returning to their homes to salvage their belongings on Sunday afternoon.

This followed the emergency evacuation of about 100 people by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall when the area was declared unsafe for occupation.

StarMetro visited the scene yesterday and found the entire section around the collapsed road had been cordoned off.

Some residents were temporarily relocated to a nearby hotel while a few remained to look after their homes.

Eyewitness Umihani Sudin, a resident at the JKR quarters affected by the cave-in, said the road had gradually collapsed at 4.30pm on Saturday and, two hours later, a large section of the area near her home was literally swallowed by a large gaping hole near the construction site of a wholesale mall.

“We saw with our own eyes how the road sank and the project’s retaining wall had given way,” she said.

She was referring to the project site of Kenanga Wholesale City in Jalan Merlimau, off Jalan Kenanga, in Cheras, with the San Peng flats in the background, where part of it had caved in last Saturday evening.

As Umihani’s home was a corner lot, she had a side parking space that was damaged with cracks on the ground following the impact of the crash.

“As my house is nearest to the scene, I need to shift my belongings out fast as I fear for my family’s safety,” Umihani, who had lived there for 20 years, said.

She was busy lugging her essentials and furniture out of her home to move into another block of quarters down the road where there were a few vacant units.

“We put up at the hotel on Saturday night and were told that we would stay on,” the 42-year-old housewife said.

Another resident Anucia Augustine said her family had been evacuated to a nearby hotel where they were expected to stay for the next three days.

“We heard a loud rumbling noise and scrambled to grab whatever belongings we could because we feared that our house would also collapse,” the 27-year-old administration executive said.

She returned to the quarters where her father in-law lived to dry her laundry.

The business community in the area was also affected by the incident.

A morning wet market was closed for business yesterday and today due to proximity to the site.

Trader C.H. Song said the traders needed to know how long they had to be closed because they were suffering losses due to the closure.

“Since the project started, the roads and pedestrian pavements here have been damaged and are in a bad state.

“Although they did come to repair the cracks, they were signs of things to come.

“Thank goodness no one was hurt or killed as the cave-in happened in the evening, after our market had closed,” Song said.

Trader Abdullah Hussein, 62, who runs a small sundry stall near Lorong Gelugor was surprised to find the police barring him from going to his usual spot.

“I have been doing business here for seven years and now the spot I usually take up is no longer there so it was quite tough to find another spot,” Abdullah said, adding that the situation had caused a lot of confusion among the people living there.

He added that water seeping out from the ground was a common sight along the road.

Another resident, who declined to be named, said the project developer had carried out repair work on Lorong Gelugor several times.

“The section where the wholesale mart is being built had sturdy piling to support its foundation.

“However, the weak spot was in Lorong Gelugor and I saw them repairing a burst water pipe there many times,” the resident said.

Sundry shop owner Santhy Malaisamy, 61, was shocked when she heard a loud rumbling noise and quickly ran out of her house to see what had happened.

“I could feel the floor sinking and then the cracks started appearing on the floor and I just did not know what to do,” Santhy, a mother of five, said, adding she was now staying with her son.

She owned a sundry shop located on the ground floor of her renovated double-storey house and lived with two of her sons and one worker who helped her at the shop.

Several Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) employees were seen restoring electricity supply to 61 shophouses in the area after power was cut on Saturday.

When asked, a TNB employee said electricity was re-routed to the shophouses by a sub-station inside the San Peng flats after electrical cables were severed when the road collapsed.

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