Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rush to escape storm proves deadly

Muhameed Selem Tastakhir (pic) and his friend worked hard to get back to their base to escape a storm. Sadly for him, their haste led to his co-worker being killed when tonnes of concrete and metal fell on their gas tank delivery truck.

Selem, 34, said he had no inkling of what was about to happen as he was driving towards Menara Umno en route to their base in nearby Tamil Street.

“It happened so fast. I didn't know what hit me,” said Selem, who only suffered minor injuries to his head.

Unfortunately, Selem's close friend of two years, Indian national Jahir Hussain Sulaiman, 46, did not survive the accident and died from his injuries in hospital.

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Recollecting the tragic incident on Thursday, the father of four said they were unloading the last of the gas tanks at Red Rock Hotel in Macalister Road, several hundred metres from Menara Umno, when strong wind prompted Jahir to unload faster.

“He told me to quickly unload so we could get back to our shop before the rain,” Selem said, adding that they rushed to unload and were just minutes into the journey back when the truck was hit.

Part of the cabin and a most of the truck's rear were badly damaged.

“If only we had not rushed, we could have escaped this,” he said with tears welling up in his eyes.

Selem said he blacked out when the debris impacted. “I awoke when a man tapped on my chest to see if I was all right, and he pulled me out of the truck,” he said.

After a few minutes, he realised that Jahir was still trapped inside.

“I rushed to his aid. My employer also rushed to the scene, and we tried to pull him out of the rubble,” said Selem, adding that Jahir was still alive at that time.

“We tried to get the people around to help but they were afraid that more debris might fall.”

A few moments later, firemen arrived and pulled Jahir out, but Selem was upset that the ambulance was late in arriving.

“We waited for one hour. Jahir was still breathing and grasping my arm really tightly. We decided that we could not wait any more, so we sent him to the Penang Hospital ourselves,” he said.

He added that Jahir's death could have been prevented.

“Even the hospital staff were slow to respond to the emergency and Jahir was pronounced dead 20 minutes later,” he alleged.

Selem said he had accepted what had happened as God's will.

“However, I will always be reminded of this incident whenever I pass that road in the future,” he added.

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