3 perish in blast at house

GURUN - A man believed to be a soldier and two children were killed when a blast occurred at a house in Taman Ria Mesra here.

The explosion, which was believed to have been caused by an explosive device stored in the house, could be heard a kilometre away and caused a fire that damaged 10 other houses.

The man in his 30s, known only as Ayob, died at the scene with his eight-year-old daughter Nor Hidayu Shahirah, while his wife Sharifah Haslinda, 37, suffered serious injuries.

A five-year-old boy who has yet to be identified also died in the explosion that also injured at least three other residents in the 4.30pm incident yesterday.

The dead and injured were sent to the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani.

The explosion left a trail of destruction with the back portion of the house where the explosive device was stored collapsing while other houses showed burn marks and their windows shattered.

Kedah Fire and Rescue Department director Ahmad Shahabuddin said his personnel initially thought the explosion was caused by a gas cylinder.

"But upon checking further, we found that the explosion was much too strong.

We now believe that it could have been caused by an explosive item," he told the press at the scene last night.

He said rescue personnel found Ayob and his daughter at the back of the house.

Ayob's injured wife was also found in the same area.

The impact of the blast is believed to have thrown them away from the house.

The explosion also caused damage to two cars parked at the scene.

Personnel from the police bomb squad were later dispatched to the scene to carry out further investigation.

As at press time, there was still no official statement issued by the Kedah police.