Six cheat death from falling boulders

Three women, three children injured; Seven houses in Kg Bukit Kukusan destroyed

SB09_060413_BONGKAH BATUTAWAU: Three boulders, including one the size of a house, fell from a quarry located atop a hill, injuring three women and three children and destroying seven houses in Kampung Bukit Kukusan near here this morning.

Tawau Zone Fire and Rescue Department chief Albert Jiran Tanjung said the victims who sustained injuries in the hands and legs were warded at the Tawau Hospital.

He said the victims were among 65 residents from 12 families in the village.

There are about 300 houses in the village.

He said upon being informed of the incident at 11.43am, a team of firemen rescued some of the villagers who were trapped in their collapsed houses, assisted by the Malaysian Civil Defence Force, police and Armed Forces.

A preliminary report revealed that the boulders rolled down the hill and struck the houses after explosives were set off at the quarry on Bukit Kukusan.

Met at the scene, Tawau police chief ACP Awang Besar Dullah said the quarry operators had been ordered to cease operations while the residents were told to vacate their homes.

A resident, Wakalobe Lakambera, said she and five others were at the veranda of their house when they heard a siren from the quarry, followed by an explosion.

Subsequently, she was shocked to see the boulders rolling down the hill and smashing into several houses lining the slope above her house.

While the water tank located at the rear of her house was wrecked by a boulder, the 55-year-old, nevertheless, was grateful as none of her family members were injured.

Edi Lasuasa, 54, said, he was in his rented house with seven others, when he watched several houses being struck by boulders.

He said a boulder ploughed into his house before he could flee. Eventually, he found himself engulfed by darkness and lying amongst the wreckage.

Edi, who sustained a head injury and bruises on the legs, said he was lucky he was not injured by falling debris, adding that he managed to rescue four others, including two children, from the wreckage.