Evidence ‘blown up’
SUBANG JAYA: The key evidence which could have pinpointed the cause of the explosion at the Empire Shopping Gallery on Sept 28 is believed to have been wiped out in the blast.
The Energy Commission of Malaysia said such was the devastation caused by the blast that it is facing an arduous task in trying to determine the origin of the explosion.
Its gas safety head, Yusni Sharif, said the blast, which occurred at 3.30am, was so extensive that any clues such as gas pipes, CCTV systems and partitions in the affected part of the building were either destroyed or heavily damaged.
“The evidence (we have) is not helping us at all. It’s not easy to put the puzzle together,” he said after officiating at a gas safety workshop organised by the Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management here last week.
Yusni said the commission was trying its best to gather more concrete evidence and it would “take some time” to conclude its investigations.
“Information from witnesses is also not giving us a proper insight into the explosion,” he told The Malay Mail.
He said the commission had three months to wrap up the investigations.
The explosion damaged 40 shops at the lower ground and ground floors of the year-old building. It was so strong it blew out windows and wooden panels.
Four people were hurt — two Nepalese security guards and a couple. One of the guards suffered a broken leg after being trapped under debris.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director Mohd Sani Harul had reportedly said fire investigators had narrowed down the origin of the blast to five food outlets on the lower ground, between LG32 to LG36.
It was reported the shopping mall would re-open its doors by mid-November.
An additional requirement to strengthen gas safety guidelines for shopping complexes is being drafted by the commission.
Stricter gas checks
Commission may make it a must for malls to hire own engineers
THE Energy Commission of Malaysia is drafting an additional requirement to strengthen the gas safety guidelines for shopping complexes.
Its gas safety and supply department director, Ahmad Nornadzmi Dzulkarnain, said the commission was looking at proposing a mandatory requirement for malls to hire competent persons to conduct routine checks on the gas system.
“Currently, shopping complexes rely on outsourced licensed maintenance teams to check the gas system,” he said after attending a gas safety workshop last week.
The maintenance team are hired from licensed gas contractors or gas supplier Gas Malaysia Berhad.
“We want the management of shopping complexes to be more involved at the operations level,” Ahmad Nornadzmi said.
He said the requirement would be proposed to the commission’s board for approval. The amendment would come under the Gas Supply Regulation 1997.
Ahmad Nornadzmi said gas competent persons would be able to conduct thorough checks daily and quickly implement preventive measures to possible complications in the systems.
Malaysian Association for Shopping and Highrise Complex Management secretary Foong Meng Khum said the association was working closely with the commission on the drafting process.
“It is a positive initiative to increase safety,” he said. Foong said all shopping complexes had a centralised gas system with certified safety measures such as automatic gas valves that shut the supply of gas to pipes upon a leak.
However, the frequency of in-depth inspection varied from complex to complex.
“Some mall managements only conduct checks like pressure tests at various points of the gas system once a year, as required for the renewal of the annual gas licence,” he said.
The Empire ‘strikes’ back
SUBANG JAYA: Business at the Empire Shopping Gallery, rocked by a gas leak explosion last week, is slowly returning to normal.
Checks by The Malay Mail yesterday showed offices were beginning to reopen after the complex was closed a week following the explosion on Sept 28.
However, the 10-storey Empire Hotel and the five-storey shopping mall remained closed.
On Monday, Empire Holdings issued a statement confirming 513 tenants had returned— 139 from the Soho units and 374 from the office units. The remaining tenants were expected to return later.
The complex comprises the Empire Tower, Empire Soho, Empire Hotel and the shopping mall.
The temporary closure of Empire Tower and Soho was was to ensure the building was safe for occupation again.
Empress Secret director Nigel Low, 23, whose business is based in Soho, said he was at the seventh floor of the building on the day of the explosion.
“I was sleeping in the office when the explosion occurred, but I did not suspect anything amiss and continued sleeping because the fire alarm did not go off,” he said.
“We’re re-opening for the first time today after the explosion. I do not know when our clients will come here as usual because vehicles have been prohibited from parking inside Empire Gallery and this would make it difficult for them to come here.”
Low said he was forced to park his car at Subang Parade mall and had to walk at least 300 metres to reach his office.
An administrative staff, who wished to be known as Rosa, said it was business as usual for her as she works with the building’s service management.
“I have been working everyday since the explosion occurred. I have nothing to fear as I was informed the situation is improving,” she said.
An executive at a development company which operates from the office tower, Khatijah Ahmad, 26, said although they had resumed business yesterday, clients were still afraid to come to their office.
“Most of our clients requested meetings to be held outside the office,” said Khatijah who was on her first day of work after the explosion.”
While business owners and workers from Empire Office Tower and Soho had been allowed to enter their offices, retail shops in the Empire Shopping Mall remained closed.