GEORGE TOWN: "We were busy working when suddenly we heard a very loud noise. Suddenly, things came crashing down and it was chaos."
This was how Bangladeshi construction worker Mohamad Ikhtiar, 38, recalled last night's incident in which a building under construction near the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) in Batu Maung collapsed.
Mohamad, who has only been working at the construction site for the past three months, said he was working with a group of his countrymen when the incident happened.
"We were working at the front section when we suddenly heard loud noises coming from the middle section. It sounded like something falling.
"We went to check and were shocked to find giant, heavy beams falling on top of one another.
"We heard people calling out for help but there was nothing much we could do with the concrete structure.
"It was only then that we realised that there were people trapped underneath the debris," he told the New Straits Times when met at the scene early this morning.
Mohamad said police and firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after.
"I don't know if any of my friends are trapped under the debris.
"Our boss has asked us all to report for work this morning to do a headcount. "Only then will I know if my friends are involved," he added.
Police have confirmed that three Bangladeshi construction workers died and two others were seriously injured in the incident.
Two of the three died at the scene, while the other died at the hospital.
The two injured are being treated at Penang Hospital. Police received a call about 9.45pm yesterday, alerting them to an accident at a warehouse under construction, and based on initial report, there were 18 construction workers at the site.
However, nine of them went to perform prayers.
Another nine were working below a 12m-long beam, weighing about 14 tonnes, which collapsed from a height of 20m and knocked into 14 other beams.
All the beams fell onto the workers, trapping them below.
The search for another four victims is underway.
Meanwhile, Moshir, 50, said he had just arrived home when he received a call from his friend, alerting him to the accident at his workplace.
He had worked at the construction site for the past five months, although the project started more than a year ago.
"I only managed to shower and pray before I rushed to the scene.
"I don't know if any of my friends are trapped," he said, adding that many of the victims were Bangladeshi nationals who had just started work at the construction site for the past month.
He also said that it was normal for them to work past 10pm or even later.