Tragic last few seconds as burn victim dies in hospital

GEORGE TOWN - It was a sombre sight as a 10-year-old boy stood next to his mother before she drew her last breath at the Penang Hospital.

Yesterday, Lai Siew Fong (pic), 36, who had been fighting for her life at the hospital for almost 40 days, died after suffering 70 per cent burns on her body.

Earlier, on June 24, a neighbour had seen her engulfed in flames at her house in Taman Bayu Mutiara in Bukit Mertajam, and alerted the police.

Lai had been put under sedation since then.

Yesterday, her family members rushed the boy from his school to the hospital upon being told that her condition was critical.

The boy was given special permission to visit his mum although children below 12 are barred from entering the intensive care unit under normal circumstances.

All of them broke down in tears when Lai drew her last breath.

Penang CID chief Senior Asst Comm Mazlan Kesah said Lai died of sepsis (a bloodstream infection) with multi-organ failure due to the burns.

He said police had reclassified the case under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder.

"We are still looking for Lai's unemployed husband Chiam Nguang Huat, 39, to assist in investigations," he said when contacted yesterday.

"Anyone who has information of his whereabouts are to inform the nearest police station."

Lai's brother, who declined to be named, said his sister had undergone five skin grafts.

He said they would look after Lai's two children although they might face financial constraints.