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SECOND PENANG BRIDGE COLLAPSE: Rescue teams scour for survivors


GRIM WORK AHEAD: Authorities say more victims could be trapped under rubble

 A GRIM atmosphere has enveloped the site of the collapsed ramp at the Second Penang Bridge after rescue workers voiced concern that there could be more victims trapped under the 500 tonnes of  rubble covering the work site.

Some 36 hours after the collapse, the toll remains the same -- one dead, three injured.

The dead victim was identified as former policeman Tajudin Zainal Abidin, 45, who was trapped in a Perodua Kelisa.

Late yesterday, a relative was taken to the site to identify his remains, which were still in his mangled car.

At press time, four hydraulic jacks were being used to lift the debris from the car.

That clearly explained the difficult task which lay ahead for the rescue workers.

Some said it will take days before the rubble is cleared and all victims accounted for.

As rescue operations continued with vigour, investigators were also present at the scene, attempting to ascertain what caused the collapse of the 30m ramp.

A six-man team from the state Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) spent several hours inspecting the scene where the Batu Maung Interchange is located.

It was the second round of inspections after an earlier team spent seven hours scouring for evidence soon after the ramp collapsed at about 7.15pm on Thursday.

DOSH director Mohd Anuar Embi said the investigation was to try and ascertain if all safety precautions were adhered to.

Mohd Anuar said initial investigations pointed to the possibility that the tragedy was caused by the failure of the formwork structure to support the massive load.

The formwork is the mould for the ramp where concrete is poured into.

However, he said they needed at least another two days to come out with conclusive findings. He warned that the contractor could be held responsible and charged in court if investigations revealed that he had not adhered to safe operating procedures and application of good engineering practices.

The Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) meanwhile, has issued a stop-work order for the site.

Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) managing director Datuk Dr Ismail Mohamed Taib stressed that the contractor had adhered to all standard safety procedures.

He explained that the collapsed ramp involved a three-section cast of the 'in-situ' box girders.

"The casting work for the first section had been completed two weeks ago, and the incident occurred during the casting work for the second section," he said.

Ismail added that JKSB would be paying an initial RM10,000 compensation to the family of the deceased.

"This is just an initial contribution. We will decide the full quantum of the compensation later."

The Batu Maung Interchange project is Package 3A of the 24km Second Penang Bridge, which links Batu Maung in the island and Batu Kawan on the mainland.

The collapsed ramp was part of the flyover which links traffic from Bayan Lepas and Permatang Damar Laut inbound to the bridge entrance.

The project was awarded to Cergas Murni Sdn Bhd.

It was learnt that work on the interchange began a year ago and the work on the bottom of the affected structure had started a week ago.

The project was scheduled for completion next month, as the bridge was expected to be opened in September.

The vehicle that was crushed by the fallen section of the Second Penang Bridge ramp. The driver was killed in the incident. Pic by Danial Saad

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