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PETALING JAYA: One of the city’s earliest landmarks, Jaya Supermarket, collapsed while demolition work was going on, killing two Indonesian workers.
Two bodies were recovered at 6.44pm and 10.25pm and another worker was feared dead.
Two other workers were pulled out alive at about 5.45pm and 6pm, while four more are still trapped beneath a tangle of steel and rubble after the building collapsed at about 5pm yesterday.
The five-storey portion of the building collapsed right to the basement, where the car park was located. A 10-storey office block at the other end of the building was not affected.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Soiman Jahid said 50 firemen rushed to the scene after receiving a distress call at 5.08pm.
The number of rescue personnel was later increased to about 150 with the police, Civil Defence Department and Petaling Jaya City Council joining in.
The two injured victims, Suriono, 31, and Salleh, 45, were sent to the University Malaya Medical Centre.
Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed said only one body had been identified, that of 28-year-old Maskor.
“The search-and-rescue operation will continue until all workers are accounted for,” he told reporters at the site.
The workers were part of the more than 80 crew who were demolishing the building.
The 35-year-old Jaya Shopping Centre, which housed a supermarket and many outlets, was closed on Feb 6, 2008. The new owners of the building planned to demolish and rebuild it on the site.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, urged the public not to go near the area as it would hamper search-and-rescue efforts.
Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor said the Public Works Department is ready to offer assistance in equipment and manpower to help with the search and rescue.
“We are also willing to help investigate why the building collapsed,” he said,
When asked if the overloading of machinery on the upper level of the building was the cause of the collapse, he said it could be one possibility but could not say anything until the investigation is completed.
A worker, Andi, who was on the fifth floor of the building, was taking a break with nine others when the incident happened.
“I was sitting when I heard a loud sound. Then, the floor started tilting and we just ran for our lives. We rushed to the other end of the building. We are so lucky to be alive,” said the 30-year-old who had been working on the construction site for 20 days.
Rojak seller Faizal Md Yusof, who operates from a van just opposite the building, saw the building shake and collapse.
“I saw six cranes falling down along with the building. I just left my van and ran for my life,” he said.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the Fire and Rescue Department would work together with the police to probe into the cause of the collapse.
When met at the emergency ward of the hospital, rescued worker, Salleh told Bernama he was trapped in the rubble for more than an hour.
Suffering from a fractured right leg and arm, the father of four, who started work at the project just three days ago, said he was working on the ground floor of a four-storey building when the structure collapsed.