KUCHING - Three people were killed and more than 20 injured when an explosion rocked a shopping mall here.
The incident happened at about 3.30pm yesterday at a new food outlet which was being renovated on the ground floor of Cityone Megamall.
The three who died were found trapped beneath debris from a wall that collapsed due to the explosion, said state Fire and Rescue Department director Khirudin Drahman.
The dead victims have been identified as Chin Hsien Loong, 29, from Penang and Sarawakians Tchee Kiam Jong, 24, and O Kui Lim, 49.
Khirudin said four victims were seriously injured and were rushed to the Sarawak General Hospital.
He said another 22 people suffered light injuries.
"We received a distress call at 3.37pm and sent teams from three stations.
"When we arrived, we found 14 victims with light injuries were helped out of the mall by members of the public," he told reporters at the scene.
Khirudin said the gas piping in the food outlet was believed to have exploded.
"At the time, workers were testing the equipment in the outlet, which was scheduled to be opened tomorrow (today)," he said.
Kuching police chief ACP Ng Ah Lek said no foul play or criminal element was suspected in the explosion.
"It is a workplace incident," he said.
A victim, who only wanted to be known as Benny, said he was installing beverage equipment when the explosion occurred.
"The wall fell and hit me. Everyone was in a state of panic," he said.
Shop worker Nieda Zaie said she heard an explosion, followed by the sound of something collapsing.
"It was very loud. At first I thought it was thunder but it sounded too loud.
"I could hear people screaming and then the cleaners and some mall workers told us to go out," she said.
Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, who was at the scene, said he would bring up the incident to the Federal Human Resources Ministry.
"Safety measures and guidelines for all workers have to be increased," he said.
Cityone Megamall said on its Facebook page that the building would be closed until further notice.