A FAMILY of four was killed when fire gutted their double-storey home in Subang Jaya’s USJ2 suburb early yesterday.
A daughter survived as she was staying in campus. Now questions are being asked as to whether the grilles prevented the victims from escaping.
SUBANG JAYA — Their past week was filled with fun, laughter and festive joy. But when final-year undergraduate Lim Yu Jin returned home yesterday she was grief-stricken and in a state of shock.
Her home in USJ 2 was razed and she had lost her parents and two siblings.
The 23-year-old was at her UCSI university hostel in Taman Connaught, Cheras, when she was informed of the tragedy.
The scene outside the double-storey terrace house was sombre as an acrid odour filled the air when Yi Jun arrived in tears at 10am
Friend and relatives immediately embraced the sobbing final-year acturial science student offering words of comfort and assurance.
She was too distraught to respond to media question, and was whisked through the crowd into the burnt out ground floor rubble to salvage whatever belongings she could.
The fire claimed the lives of her parents, property agent Lim Ah Kok, 58, housewife Goh Bee Khim, 52, and her younger siblings Yong Liang, 20, and Yong Wei, 17.
The familys’ two dogs — an eight-year-old Labrador called Amber, and a four-year-old Pinscher, Sugar, — survived the flames albeit suffering slight burns.
A maternal relative of the family Lenny Ooi, 38, said she was alerted about the fire by the neighbours slightly before 6am.
“I immediately tried calling my aunt and uncle, but their phones went unaswered. I rushed here only to find we had lost the four of them,” she said.
Yi Jun’s cousin, Suzette Chong, 34, said the family, which hailed from Penang, were very close-knit and spent time together whenever they could.
“We just celebrated my birthday with the family on the first day of Chinese New Year, and my aunt was supposed to follow me to Penang as she wanted to attend a school reunion dinner,” said Suzette.
Suzette said her aunt had called her several times over the past few days asking when she was coming over to visit.
“I should have gone to visit her earlier. Now its too late,” she said.
Another relative, Victor Goh, 29, said three families, including the Lim’s, had a reunion dinner at the USJ2 house on Friday.
“They came to my house on Sunday morning for their New Year visit, and that was the last I saw of them,” he said.
Yong Liang’s classmate Harvish Singh, 20, said they were together on Sunday night and that Yong Liang was a jovial person who would help people in distress.
“We were just cracking jokes at the nearby field. I never thought that would be the last time we would be together.”
Yu Jian was later seen, accompanied by relatives and friends, going to the Serdang Hospital forensics department. At the mortuary she was accompanied by the police and pathologist for the routine identification.
Investigators believe the the victims were trapped on the upper floor and fire raged through several sections of the house.
Neighbours heard cries for help, and on looking out of their windows found the home ablaze and occupants hurling things out of the open window.
“The raging flames and thick smoke prevented neighbours from entering the house,” one neighbour said.
Police believe the four were probably overcome by smoke when flames raged through the ground floor.
“The victims were trapped on the upper floor by the time they realised the fire was raging, said district police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Azlin Sadari.
“Those using locks for their window grilles should ensure the keys were kept in an accessible place,” he said, when asked to comment on the house being completely grilled.
While not wishing to describe the home as a death trap, the police chief reiterated the victims realised too late, adding that they were awaiting the autosy reports to facilitate investigations.
Fire and Rescue Department officials declined comment on whether the grilles were a safety hazard pending completion of their investigations.
Mohamad Azlin said police were alerted of the blaze at 5.34am, and two fire and rescue trucks arrived at the burning house 10 minutes later.
He said once rescuers managed to douse the flames, they found the body of Bee Khim in the upper floor toilet, while the three other victims were found lying face-down in the adjacent room.
“The victims were probably asleep and were awakened when the fire broke out, with the thick smoke quickly engulfing the home,” he said.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department Deputy Director of Operations Sani Harul said the fire, which took 16 firemen about 30 minutes to put out, had burnt a large part of the ground floor.
“The fire is believed to have started from an apparent electrical short circuit,” he said.
PUTRAJAYA — The Health Ministry plans to release genetically modified Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in various parts in Shah Alam and Datuk Keramat in Kuala Lumpur to combat the rise in dengue cases.
Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam said the ministry would do this by the end of the month.
“We will study its impact on reducing the number of dengue cases. If it is successful, we will use this method in other areas, too,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry would also need to see how the public would react to the huge number of mosquitoes in their neighbourhood.
“People may not be used to this measure, which is why we are having this trial run before we release the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to other hot spot areas,” he said.
A collaborative study was carried out among the ministry, the Institute for Medical Research Malaysia (IMR) and Lancaster University, Britain, using the replacement method to identify how Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes will assist in the reduction of dengue mosquitoes.
There has been more than a 50 per cent increase in dengue cases in Malaysia between 2014 and 2016.
Statistics from the ministry show that 336 victims — an average of 28 a month — died from dengue last year compared to 215 in 2014, a rise of 56.3 per cent.
There was also an increase of 11.2 per cent in the number of dengue cases last year, up from 108,698 in 2014 to 120,836 cases.
Despite the drop in cases last month compared to January 2015, the number of cases throughout the country remained high, with 7,832 dengue cases and 13 deaths.
Last year, Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham said the pilot project, which costs RM3.8 million, would be carried out by IMR.
He said that when the mosquitoes were released, they would spread the Wolbachia bacteria into the Aedes aegypti mosquito population.
“The Wolbachia bacteria in the wild mosquito will block the dengue virus from replicating in other Aedes mosquitoes,” he said.
Continuous release of these mosquitoes will suppress the natural Aedes population to a low level, thus preventing disease transmission.
The Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes project will be evaluated in December 2020.
Other countries that have released Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are Vietnam, Indonesia and Tahiti. In Singapore, Thailand and the United States the project is ongoing.
On another issue, Dr Subramaniam confirmed the new rates for dental healthcare would not effect patients who could not afford them.
“We are committed to continue subsidising third-class patients who have received 98 per cent subsidy for medical and dental costs,” he said.
He said the increased rates would only be for patients who could afford them or for Class 1 and 2 patients.
“There has been some rationalisation to the increase for Class 1 and Class 2 patients as we have not made changes to these two classes for a very long time,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam attributed the rise in government healthcare costs to the higher cost of living and increased medical care charges globally.
IPOH — Three dengue-related deaths have been reported in Perak since early this year, and this has set off alarm bells.
Health authorities, who are bracing for a spike in the number of dengue cases in the months ahead, have ordered their inspectors to be extra diligent when carrying out checks on breeding spots.
“There were no deaths recorded during the same period last year,” said state health executive committee chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon.
“The dengue-related deaths this year have us worried that an upward trend could be looming.”
Up till Saturday, the state recorded 673 dengue cases compared to 633
“Most worrying are the three dengue-related deaths reported this year, while zero deaths were recorded during the same period last year,” Dr Mah said.
Two deaths were reported in Kinta and the third in Kuala Kangsar.
“We will step up measures which include fogging at hot spots,” he said.
“We also urge the public to be more responsible and take precautions to fight dengue infection.”
Dr Mah said Aedes mosquito eggs had the ability to survive in hot and wet weather, which made it difficult to prevent the spread of the virus.
“A typical Aedes mosquito egg can survive in dry conditions for six months. And when there is water, the egg will hatch,” he said.
“Aedes mosquitoes do not have to bite a person who is infected with the dengue virus to transmit the virus. It can transmit the virus transovarial where an infected female mosquito can transmit the virus to its offspring.”