Empire mall blast: It was a gas leak, says Chor

Yesterday’s pre-dawn explosion that destroyed a major section of the Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya was caused by gas leak, Housing and Local Government Minister Chor Chee Hiong confirmed today.

Speaking to media after visiting the site in SS17, Subang Jaya this afternoon, Chor said the gas leak originated from a restaurant on the ground floor, which he identified as LG32.

The year-old shopping complex, he said, was equipped with a central gas piping system, which needed to be checked by the Energy Commission once every two years.

“The piping is connected to every restaurant, and if there is a leakage, it will explode if there is a spark,” said Chor who was accompanied in his visit by Selangor Fire and Rescue Department and Energy Commission officials.

“It is quite unfortunate that this explosion has happened in less than two years,” he added.

‘Leak caused by tenant’s negligence’

An industrial source later told Malaysiakini that the leak was caused by negligence of the shop tenant as the central piping system was working properly.

She also claimed that the tenant is aware of the mistake.

Meanwhile, Chor was coy when asked whether or not the authorities will instruct the shopping complex to replace its central piping system.

He said it is hard to point fingers at certain individual as the system was fine when it was installed.

“But when somebody touched it and caused a leak, it is hard to blame anyone,” he said.

On a side note, debris at the mall’s entrance has been cleared and tenants from the upper floors have been allowed to enter their shops in the aftermath of the shocking blast that injured four.

Mammoth DH Empire Holdings marketing director Thang Han Ni said upper floors tenants can go in with the supervision of two security guards.

“Whereas for ground floor and lower ground floor tenants, they simply can’t go in because there is a lot of debris,” she said.

She added that the issue of compensation has yet to be sorted out, but tenants were given briefings about the entire incident.

The Empire Hotel, she said, will resume operations once the electricity supply is back.

The mall was struck by an explosion at approximately 3.45am yesterday, which ripped through 40 shops, injuring 4 people and damaged several cars including a VW Golf GTi.