KOTA KINABALU - An elderly couple injured their legs and backbone when they jumped from a fourth floor to escape a raging fire that spread through a hotel and eight shops in northern Kudat, about 150km from here.
However, 60-year-old Rahimah Bilung and her husband, Harun Majid, 59, are thankful they are still alive.
They managed to land on a zinc roof two floors below their fourth floor hotel room.
Both were rushed to the Kudat Hospital and later transferred to the general hospital here.
Four other people were also injured in the 6pm incident on Thursday. One of the victims was still warded at the Kudat Hospital yesterday.
The blaze also hit two furniture shops, a salon and several sundry shops.
Rahimah, a mother of four, hurt her spine, broke one leg and fractured the other, while Harun fractured his hip and backbone and injured both legs.
She said they both felt a sharp pain in the body upon landing and could only crawl to safety.
"I cannot remember how we managed to get down to the roadside but we were soon attended to by medical staff who brought us to the Kudat Hospital," she said when met at the hospital here yesterday.
Recalling the events that led to their escape from certain death, Rahimah said: "We were staying at the hotel for the night after conducting some business in Kudat.
"By late evening, just as we were about to rest, we heard frantic knocks on our door and people screaming 'fire'."
Rahimah said they grabbed a few belongings and ran down the hallway, only to find the floor below engulfed in thick smoke.
"We had no choice but to run back up to our room," she said, adding people were screaming and running for their lives.
"Some fainted along the staircase but were assisted by other people," she said.
After reaching their room, Harun shut the door and quickly grabbed a chair to break the window - their escape route.
Rahimah said she has yet to decide if she wants surgery on her fractured leg.
"The doctor told me I could opt not to operate and wait for my leg to recover by itself, although that would take months," she said.
Investigations on the cause of the incident continues.