Couple comes home to tragedy

JOHOR BARU - Thinking that their children were fast asleep and safe at home, a couple went grocery shopping only to return to find that their house has been razed by fire and their youngest child died in it.

Marakar Pekar, 45, and Masirah Berutu, 34, left Muhammad Iskandar, four, and Siti Aishah, seven, sleeping in the living hall at about 12.30am yesterday to buy vegetables and fish at the Pandan wholesale market here.

Marakar said he received a phone call from a neighbour at around 1.30am, saying that their house was on fire.

"I rushed home to find the police and fire and rescue department personnel outside my house trying to break open the gate," he said.

Marakar said he then rushed into the house, looking for his children but found it difficult to locate them because the house was filled with smoke.

"I used a torchlight and went searching throughout the house," he said. "I found them inside the toilet in the master bedroom," he said.

Both the children had fainted.

Marakar rushed them to a nearby clinic in a police patrol car but the doctors told him that his son had died due to smoke inhalation.

Witness Mohd Nor Saufi Salekun, 29, said he returned from a wedding when he heard screams from the children.

"It all happened so fast and there was nothing much that we could do because the house was locked," he said.

Nusajaya OCPD Supt Nor Hashim Mohamed said police were investigating the cause of the fire.