13 June 2013

GEORGE TOWN, June 13 — Heavy rain and strong winds blew off a lightning arrester from the Umno building in Macalister Road here, sending it crashing down onto several vehicles on the busy main road below.

The storm started at about 7pm, the lightning arrester was blown off, taking along a chunk of concrete from the building where it crashed onto the street below, damaging about 11 vehicles and injuring several motorists.

Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng, who visited the site at about 8pm after the mishap, expressed his concern and confirmed that one person was critically injured in the incident.

“Several others are also injured and all the victims have been sent to the Penang Hospital for treatment,” he told reporters at the site.

He had also asked the police to set up a buffer zone around the 22-storey Umno building as there were still fixtures on the building rooftop that looked like it were hanging onto the building precariously.

“We hope nothing else will fall off the roof and we hope the building management would come immediately and bring the keys to give the police and rescue personnel access to the rooftop to remove the dangerous fixtures,” he said.

For now, Lim said seven cars suffered serious damages in the mishap and urged the public to stay away from the area to allow the police and the rescue personnel to clear the area and conduct rescue works.

“We have received reports of uprooted trees on various locations in the state so the council, distric officers and other departments have sent out their officers to help with the clearing works,” he said.

As for now, Lim said the state government is still waiting for full reports on the extent of the damages wreaked by the storm.

According to state executive council for environment, welfare and caring society Phee Boon Poh, the Malaysian Meteorological Department had on Tuesday issued a first category warning on thunderstorms, heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas for Penang and had warned that these weather conditions will continue until June 17.

Various locations all over the state, on the island and the mainland, were locked in massive jams as trees were uprooted, some falling onto vehicles and blocking up main roads.

On the mainland, it was reported that strong winds blew off the roofs from kampung houses in Permatang Pauh.

Phee said they are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage caused by the storm as the storm had hit many locations in the state, not only one location.

“For now, the worst hit is at Macalister Road and we are still trying to get more details on what had happened, how many have been injured and so on,” he told The Malaysian Insider in a telephone interview.

He hoped the public will take the Meteorological Department’s warning seriously and be more careful in the next few days.


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