Tonnes of concrete came crashing down

Search for life: K9 unit at the site of the building collapse. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: It was a three-storey logistics complex, a fast-track project, with the builders given permission to work round the clock.

And as Bangladeshis worked with wet concrete on the first floor of the building in Bayan Lepas at about 9.45pm on Tuesday, the structure – including a 33-tonne beam – collapsed, taking the workers down with it.

Three workers – Md Ahed Ali, 42, Mohamad Mokaddes Ali, 46, and Mohammad Sayful Islam, 29 – were killed in the tragedy while two others – Md Uzzal Mridha, 30, and Md Razu Ahamad, 33 – were badly injured.

The two injured men are being treated at the Penang Hospital Orthopaedic and Surgery Department.

Penang Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Zulfahmi Sutaji said the men were working about 18m from ground level when the structure collapsed.

However, the rescue effort turned bizarre when firemen worked to cut through the hardened concrete to free four “trapped” men yesterday afternoon. The four had actually already left the scene.

Zulfahmi said rescue workers had to move the beams, the largest of which weighed 33 tonnes.

“We made three attempts to remove the beam but to no avail. Other beams are also linked to it. Simply shifting it would render the site unstable and pose a risk for rescuers,” he added.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk A. Rajendran said a stop-work order has been issued on the project which was scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Rajendran denied that the builders were rushing to complete the structure.

“This is a fast-track project using technology. As this area is out of the residential zone, they are allowed to work at night.”

He said there would now definitely be a delay in the project, pending investigations.

The construction work is 55% completed.

It was reported that in March last year, Titijaya Land Bhd and DHL Supply Chain (M) Sdn signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to develop the logistics complex in Bayan Lepas.

It will comprise an office, automatic rack systems, a warehouse and various utilities.

Titijaya, in a statement, said it was devastated over the tragic incident.

“We have instructed the contractor to reach out to the families of the victims, and attend to those who have been hospitalised,” its group managing director Datuk Lim Poh Yit said.

He said a thorough investigation into the incident would be conducted, adding that firm and decisive action would be taken if there is any human error or negligence found to have contributed to this tragedy.

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