Geylang fire: Bodies to be flown home

SINGAPORE - The bodies of four Malaysian men who died after a fire broke out in their ground-floor apartment in Geylang early on Saturday morning are expected to be flown back by their next of kin later today.

The bodies of Mr Yusof Masrong, 49, from Sarawak, and Mr Ramu Kotiah, 50, from Perak, have been claimed by relatives, said Malaysia's Deputy High Commissioner to Singapore, Ms Kamsiah Kamaruddin.

The bodies of Mr Jubitol Rumanjing, 37, and Mr Maslan Musundo, 43, both from Sabah, will be claimed by their next of kin today, as they arrived in Singapore only late yesterday, said Ms Kamsiah.

Meanwhile, another Malaysian, Mr Muslin Masundo, is warded in the intensive care unit of the Singapore General Hospital, after suffering burns to his chest and hands. He is the brother of Mr Maslan.

Firefighters who responded to the incident at the three-storey walk-up apartment at 1.40am found three of the dead men inside a room. Another succumbed to his injuries in hospital. A total of nine people, including two firefighters, were taken to hospital.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze within 30 minutes. It was the deadliest fire here in at least a decade.

Police have classified the case as unnatural death. Investigations are ongoing.

A Ministry of Manpower spokesman said yesterday: "We extend our condolences to the families of the workers who lost their lives in the fire. We are in touch with the Migrant Workers' Centre, which is extending help to the affected workers and the families of the deceased."

Speaking on the sidelines of an International Migrant Workers Day event, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said: "The incident is really regrettable. Our condolences go out to the families... In this case, we are working closely with URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority), which oversees the... buildings for appropriate uses.

"This is something that we will investigate" and be dealing with, he said.

Foreign workers living in units above the walk-up apartment in Geylang Lorong 4 have mostly moved elsewhere.

The affected unit and the one directly above it had closure order letters by the Building and Construction Authority pasted on their doors.

The unit two floors above did not have a closure order, but two Chinese nationals who were present when The Straits Times visited yesterday said they had packed and were looking for a new place to move to. A metal worker who gave his name only as Mr Zhang, 30, said: "I don't feel it's safe to live here any more."

He said he and a flatmate pay $500 a month in total for a two-bunk bed in the unit, which has six rooms that can take up to eight people each, as well as a common kitchenette and toilet. Each room is about the size of a bedroom in a three-room HDB flat.

Mr Zhang's flatmate, Ms Yuenesswary, 23, a cleaner from Malaysia, has no plans to move. Her employer deducts $200 a month from her salary for her bed there.

Ms Yuenesswary, who goes by one name, said the unit owner came by to ask some residents to pack their bags and leave.

"The owner said there cannot be so many staying here. Not more than four people in a room," she said.

This article was first published on December 8, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.