Man killed in varsity disaster

Posted on 30 March 2010

An unidentified Bangladeshi worker was crushed to death and five others injured when a pile of concrete blocks crumbled at the Oceanographic and Tropical Aquacul--ture building at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT), in Gong Badak, here.


The four-storey building, on which construction started in December 2008, is almost 75% complete.


The 5.20pm incident occurred when dozens of concrete beams holding up the cement flooring on the fourth floor weakened.


A chunk of concrete crashed to the floor below where eight of the foreigners, all Bangaldeshi, were working.


The other two workers escaped unscathed.

Tragic accident: Firemen using a crane to lift the concrete blocks. A Bangladeshi worker was buried beneath the rubble at a UMT building in Kuala Terengganu yesterday.


An eyewitness, Sharif Embage Dollah, 32, said workers were busy installing a water tank at the top of the building when the incident occurred.


Sharif said he scurried out to safer ground on hearing a thunderous sound at the work site.


'Unfortunately, my colleagues were not so lucky,' he added.


State Fire and Rescue Department director Pauzan Ahmad said his officers received a distress call around 5.25pm, and five engines with 40 men rushed to the scene.


He said rescuers took about 50 minutes to extricate workers trapped under piles of concrete, and the injured were rushed to Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital here.


He said the victim was believed to have died on the spot from the impact of the beams.


Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, who rushed to the site after hearing of the incident, blamed negligence as the cause and said safe-ty measures were not prioritised at the site.


He later visited the hospital to meet the injured.


UMT deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs) Prof Dr Yahaya Ibrahim said the tragedy was a result of weak scaffolding.


'From what we know, there is nothing wrong with the structure of the building,' he said in a telephone interview.


Dr Yahaya added that a post-mortem would be conducted and construction halted for the time being.


Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin expressed regret over the tragedy and hoped the Public Works Department, which was handling the project, would conduct a thorough investigation.


UMT vice-chancellor Prof Dr Aziz Deraman, currently in Canada, said he had asked for constant updates.



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