Three killed in Sarawak mine explosion


By YU JISharon Ling

X: Fire and Rescue Department forensic personnel inspecting the coal mine area after the explosion. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star

KUCHING: A gas explosion in a coal mine in Selantik, Pantu, Sri Aman, about 130km here, killed three foreign workers and injured 24 others.

The dead were a North Korean, an Indonesian and a Myanmar national. Details of their identities were not revealed.

Sri Aman police chief DSP Mat Jusoh Mohamad said the gas fire ignited at about 450m below the tunnel’s entrance at 8.45am yesterday.

“Twenty-four of the 27 workers inside the tunnel scrambled out and helped those who were injured,” he said.

Lucky to be alive: Mine workers waiting at Sarawak General Hospital’s accident and emergency section.
Lucky to be alive: Mine workers waiting at Sarawak General Hospital’s accident and emergency section.

Most of the injured were taken to the Sri Aman Hospital, where the bodies of the three deceased were also sent for a post-mortem.

The others were taken to the Serian Hospital and the Pantu clinic. Six of the seriously injured were later brought to the Sarawak General Hospital here.

The coal mine, located about 3km from the Kuching-Sri Aman main road, began operations eight years ago.

It has 119 workers and the majority of its workers – 49 – are North Koreans.

The others are Myanmar nationals (29), Indonesians (19), Chinese nationals (15) and Bangladeshis (10).

Sri Aman Fire and Rescue Department chief Ranger Moos said the department received a call at about 11.30am and immediately sent a fire truck with seven firemen to the scene.

“According to the supervisor, the blast occurred when the workers were just about to start work,” he said.

“There was an explosion when a switch for the conveyor belt was turned on,” he said, adding that an extractor fan used for expelling gas out of the tunnel was not working.

Sparks from the switch or the defective fan are being looked at as the likely cause of the blast.

The mine has been closed until the department’s hazardous materials (Hazmat) team arrives to determine the safety of the tunnel.

“We are also waiting for the mine engineer to give us assurance on the internal structure (of the tunnel) and whether it is safe or not for us to enter,” said Moos.

Race against time: An injured mine worker arriving at Sarawak General Hospital for treatment.
Race against time: An injured mine worker arriving at Sarawak General Hospital for treatment.

“It looks like the tunnel is quite cramped. We really have no idea how it is inside but usually if there is an explosion, the structure will change,” he added.

Moos said the three workers died inside the tunnel but were not killed instantly.

“They were badly burnt in their faces by the ‘flash over’ and could move towards the exit,” he said.

“The others, some with serious injuries and some lightly injured, managed to run out.”

Related Stories:

S’wak holds nearly all of nation’s coal reserves

Mine has no signage and is difficult to find


Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 18
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

utilities , bureaus

   

Did you find this article insightful?

Yes
No

Next In Nation

Sabah sees MCO restrictions relaxed in several sectors despite conditional MCO extension
Don't retaliate, Ahmad Faizal tells Bersatu
Cops nab trio for threatening waiter with fake pistol
Perak PAS will wait for instruction from central committee on formation of state govt, says Razman
Zahid, other Umno leaders arrive at party HQ in Perak for special meeting
Violating MCO: Cops break up private party, haul up 31 youths
Tourism players, hoteliers in Sabah welcome removal of inter-state travel restrictions
Covid 19: Four new clusters detected in Sabah, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur
Ahmad Faizal Azumu resigns as Perak MB (updated)
Covid-19: 1,123 new cases, death toll now at 380 with four new fatalities

Stories You'll Enjoy