GEORGE TOWN: Police have confirmed that three people died while two others were seriously injured when a building under construction near the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) in Batu Maung near here collapsed last night.
Deputy state police chief Datuk Mohamed Usuf Jan Mohamad said two of the three died at the scene while the other died at the hospital.
He said the two injured were being treated at the Penang Hospital.
All of them are believed to be Bangladeshi nationals.
"We received a call at about 9.45pm yesterday, alerting us to an accident at a warehouse under construction. Based on initial reports, 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.
"For now, we have identified three people who died, two at the scene and one at the hospital, while two others seriously injured. They are being treated at the Penang Hospital.
"We are looking for another four victims with the help from firefighters," he told newsmen at the scene early this morning.
Mohamed Usuf said the search operation would continue until all the victims have been located.
"We have to remove all the beams first with the help of crane before we can get to the victims.
"So, this is the difficulty we are facing," he added, noting the first victim was brought out at 10pm last night.
Meanwhile, deputy state Fire and Rescue Department director Fire Assistant Commissioner Zulfahmi Sutaji said the search mission would continue into the morning.
He said they would rope in the help of other agencies.
"Our difficulty is that these are extremely heavy concrete structures, so we need the help of heavy and hydraulic machineries to access the site. We also roped in the help from the K9 unit.
"The search site is the size of a basketball court. That is our search area," he added.