4 of 5 victims of hotpot restaurant flash fire planning to seek compensation

4 of 5 victims of hotpot restaurant flash fire planning to seek compensation

SINGAPORE - At least four of the five female customers of a hotpot restaurant who were injured when a gas cannister exploded in flames will be seeking compensation.

The five women suffered burns to their faces, backs, and arms after the flash fire at Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat along Beach Road on Saturday.

According to a Lianhe Wanbao report, three of the injured intend to hire lawyers.

Only two women, a 39-year-old Singaporean and 29-year-old Thai national who works here as a singer, remain hospitalised after the incident. They suffered third-degree burns to their faces.

Another 29-year-old Thai patron who also works as a singer, suffered burns to her forehead, back and arms, but refused to be hospitalised for fear of incurring hospitalisation fees.

The single mother of two, a seven-year-old boy and a nine-month-old girl, came to Singapore in December last year and began singing in pubs and karaoke lounges, Wanbao reported. 

A friend whom she was eating with on Saturday evening, Mr Chua, 20, told Wanbao that she had hoped to be able to save enough money to buy a house in Thailand, but is now worried that she will not be able to continue to work due to her facial injuries, which may lead to scarring. Photos taken in the Chinese evening daily show the woman with a blackened forehead and arms.

Mr Chua managed to escape the blast without any injuries. 

Business as usual 

After the fire, the restaurant continued to be open for business. 

At 9pm on Tuesday night, a Wanbao reporter observed that business at the eatery was still bustling, with more than 10 tables occupied.

When questioned, the owner of the restaurant, Mr Zhang, explained that they could not afford to close as the monthly rent of the shop space comes up to $26,000.

He said his business has yet to break even after two years, after several setbacks which saw his eatery being fined last year for placing tables and chairs on the walkway outside the restaurant, as well as the new liquor laws which kicked in on April 1.

According to Wanbao, Mr Zhang had been operating his business without an appropriate licence for Petroleum and Flammable Materials, accorded by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). His restaurant had stored more than 200kg of flammable materials and required a licence, but Mr Zhang said he was only made aware of the requirement when SCDF officers notified him on Tuesday.

candicec@sph.com.sg

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