Penang warehouse collapse: Rescuers battling to remove 33-tonne beam to reach victims

GEORGE TOWN: With a 33-tonne concrete beam still among the debris at the construction site of a logistics complex in Batu Maung here that collapsed on Tuesday (Nov 28) night, rescuers are facing difficulty reaching the remaining four victims.

Penang Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Zulfahmi Sutaji said so far, three attempts to remove the large beam had failed and there may be a change of strategy in the fourth attempt.

"The third attempt to remove the 33-tonne beam hasn't been successful.

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"As it is the main structure among those that collapsed, other beams around are linked to it.

"Simply shifting it would render the site unstable and pose a risk to rescuers.

"We need to safely remove it before proceeding with the recovery of the remaining victims beneath the rubble," he said in an update at 1.20pm Wednesday (Nov 29).

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Zulfahmi said after over 12 hours of dry weather, any wet concrete involved in the incident would have hardened, including that with the victims in it.

"They were pouring concrete on the first floor, about 18m above the ground, when the structure collapsed.

"After over 12 hours, any wet concrete would have hardened.

"Most of it is still porous so we can still hack our way through it.

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"As the area is not big, about the size of a basketball court, the dry weather, despite the heat, would help our efforts," he added.

Earlier, the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) slapped the project with a stop-work order.

Search and recovery efforts are ongoing at the site.

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Out of nine victims reported at the scene during the incident, five have been found.

Three of them have been pronounced dead and two others injured.

Four more victims are still pinned under the rubble.

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