High-level panel to probe deadly mine blast in Sarawak

KUCHING: The Sarawak government is setting up a committee to investigate last Saturday’s mine blast in Selantik that claimed the lives of four miners, including a North Korean.

Assistant Public Health Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil said the committee members would include representatives from state and federal agencies.

“The committee will consist of the Human Resources Ministry, Fire and Rescue Department, Occupational Safety and Health, the Health Department and several others,” he said yesterday.

He said the committee would focus on the mine first before studying other issues.

Dr Jerip was responding to questions on whether the committee would draw up improved guidelines for the mining industry in Sarawak, which is the sole Malaysian state with coal mines

“As of now, the mine is still sealed,” he said.

PKR Sarawak vice-chairman See Chee How, who is Batu Lintang assemblyman, had earlier called for an independent state investigation that would also look at another coal mine explosion in Abok, near Selantik, two years ago.

In that incident, four Chinese nationals were killed.

Meanwhile, the body of North Korean miner Pang Chung-hyok, 29, was released from the Sarawak General Hospital at 10.50am yesterday.

It was transported to the Kuching Buddhist Society crematorium. It is believed the remains will be flown out of the country tomorrow.

A handful of unidentified North Koreans were seen receiving the body. They largely kept to themselves and did not speak to other people.

The body of Myanmar national Tun Tun Min, 36, was released by the hospital later in the day.

The Selantik mine blast occurred last Saturday morning, injuring 33 foreign workers. Three died at the scene, while another died on Tuesday.

The coal mine, located about 130km from here, began operations eight years ago.

It has 119 workers and 49 of them are North Koreans. The others are from Myanmar (29), Indonesia (19), China (15) and Bangladesh (10).

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