Worker dies, 151 patients evacuated in hospital fire

Thick smoke engulfing the paediatrics and general wards of Sarawak General Hospital.

KUCHING: A CONSTRUCTION worker died while 151 patients were evacuated when fire broke out at a construction site next to the paediatric ward of Sarawak General Hospital yesterday.

In the 5pm incident, the patients, who were mainly from the paediatric and general wards, were evacuated by hospital staff and the public when thick smoke engulfed the wards.

Sarawak health director Datuk Zulkifli Jantan said some patients even helped to evacuate those who were bed-ridden.

The fire was believed to have been sparked by welding at the lower ground floor of a new wing under construction.

State Fire and Rescue Department director Nor Hisham Mohammad said: "We believe sparks from the welding may have caused the fire."

The body of Indonesian worker Teguh Praytino, 35, was recovered with burn marks.

He was believed to have suffocated from smoke inhalation.

Nineteen firemen from Batu Lintang and Padungan fire stations contained the fire within 20 minutes.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim is expected to visit the paediatric ward at 9am today.