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Tuesday, 04 December 2018 00:00

Sending Love to Victims of Explosion Tragedy

Written by  Lee Siew Ngo, Kuching / Translated by Lee Hui Yieng

Families of the injured were grateful for the timely care and aid from volunteers. [Photograph by Sim Teck Ane]

On December 4, 2018, an explosion at Kuching CityONE Megamall killed 3 and injured 41 people. Tzu Chi volunteers were mobilized to go to the General Hospital to provide care and aid to the injured and their families.


The gas explosion happened in a food outlet, which was under renovation for its opening the following day. The three deceased were aged between 24 and 49 years old. One of them was killed due to suffocation from the collapsed walls.

Among the 41 injured were renovation workers, restaurant shareholders and family of the mall owner. Most of them sustained burns, cuts, broken bones, muscle tissue damages and breathing difficulties. Thirty of them were sent to the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), 9 were sent to Borneo Medical Centre (BMC), while the remaining 2 were sent to Timberland Medical Centre (TMC) for treatment.

Delivering hot meals and care

Tzu Chi volunteers arrived at the SGH at around 7 pm to extend their care to the injured and their family members. The hospital had also formed a care team. Most of the affected family members were emotionally stable, but had not had proper meals when the volunteers arrived. Hence, volunteers quickly prepared 50 servings of hot meals to relieve their hunger.

Volunteer Phua Mui Ling said, “When the volunteers found out that the family members had not eaten, they quickly divided themselves into three teams – to purchase ingredients, to prepare the cooking at Tzu Chi community centre, and to stay with the affected family members at the hospital.”

Volunteers also provided three sets of multi-purpose folding beds and eco-blankets for the family members of three severely injured victims, who were waiting at the corridor outside the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for updates. Volunteers left the hospital at around 11.30 pm and returned the following day. A plan was also made to send another team of volunteers to BMC, and to set up an emergency relief team to visit and care for the injured and their family members in two batches daily.

Consoling the affected families

The remains of 29-year-old Chin Hsien Loong, one of the restaurant shareholders, were sent to his hometown in Penang.

The wake for O Kui Lim, 49, from Batu Kawa, Sarawak, was held at Hun Nam Siang Tng funeral parlour. He was in the carpentry and furniture businesses. He left six children aged between 12 and 21. Volunteers offered their condolences and consolation cash to his family on December 6.

The funeral for Tchee Kiam Jong, 24, was held on December 8. He had only returned to Kuching from Singapore a year ago, and started working again three months ago.

Being there with the victims

Since the tragedy, volunteers visited the SGH twice daily to extend care and assistance, as well as, provided food, drinks, eco-blankets, multi-purpose folding beds, and other necessities, to the injured and their family members as needed, to ease their emotional pain.

Leader of the care-giving team, Bong Kui Fah said, “Care for disaster victims should not be short-term work because some may require longer time to recover. So, we will set up a long-term care-giving team.”

Two of Mr Lee’s children sustained injuries in the tragedy. Volunteers accompanied and comforted him. His eldest son, Lee Chin Chai, sustained serious burns and was admitted to the ICU. He needed to undergo procedures for damaged tissue removal and skin grafting. He repeatedly complained about the unbearable pain, but there was nothing much his family could do to help, except to pacify him. The doctor informed that he needed to be treated in the ICU for at least a month. His younger brother, Chin How, who sustained minor injuries, was taken care of by the mother.
 
Mr Lee, who has heart disease, thought the worst had happened to his eldest son when he could not find him upon arriving at the hospital. He was relieved to learn that the son was actually undergoing examinations. He confided his feelings in the volunteers, who then comforted him with well wishes for him and his sons.

Hamid, an Indonesian with Malaysian residence permit, has worked in Sarawak for ten years, while his wife and daughter came to Malaysia more than a year ago. At the time of the incident, Hamid heard an unusual sound and instinctively ran for his life. Unfortunately, his head was hit by a fallen object. His friend, who could not escape in time, was severely injured. After the tragedy, his wife and daughter stayed with him at the hospital. Volunteers brought them food, drinks and eco-blankets.

Disasters strike unexpectedly, but volunteers’ love is like the sun, warming the hearts of those affected, comforting them and giving them the strength to face the ordeal calmly.

 

 

On the night of the tragedy, volunteers delivered hot meals to the families of the injured. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]   About ten volunteers chanted for the deceased, O Kui Lim, at the funeral parlour. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]

On the night of the tragedy, volunteers delivered hot meals to the families of the injured. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]
 
About ten volunteers chanted for the deceased, O Kui Lim, at the funeral parlour. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]
 
Volunteers offered condolences and consolation cash to the brother of the late O Kui Lim. [Photograph by Sim Teck Ane]   On December 8, 2018, volunteers comforted family member of the deceased, Tchee Kiam Jong at the funeral parlour. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]

Volunteers offered condolences and consolation cash to the brother of the late O Kui Lim. [Photograph by Sim Teck Ane]
 
 
On December 8, 2018, volunteers comforted family member of the deceased, Tchee Kiam Jong at the funeral parlour. [Photograph by Tan Pui Lee]