JOHOR BARU: A homemaker living near Sungai Kim Kim, where a tanker purportedly dumped chemical waste on March 6, said she started smelling a bau busuk (bad smell) around 3am yesterday and thought it was coming from an out-of-order air-conditioner.
“Then I went to the kitchen because I thought the cooking gas was leaking. When I switched on the fan to disperse the smell, it just got stronger ... like the odour of petrol or burning tyres,” said Echa Anak Paoh, 42, whose son, Harry Martin Anak Ebom, 17, from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Taman Pasir Putih, was admitted to Hospital Sultan Ismail (HSI), after inhaling the pungent fumes.
She said she couldn’t go back to sleep after that because her throat felt parched and itchy.
“My husband felt the same, but my son still went to school and used a route near Sungai Kim Kim. About 10.30am, however, a teacher sent me a WhatsApp message to pick him up,” she told reporters when Deputy Education Minister, Teo Nie Ching, visited the victims today.
Echa said she then rushed over to the school but was told Harry had been taken to hospital.
Harry related that his class was supposed to have a Physical Education (PE) session, when the teacher cancelled it because of udara kotor (dirty air).
“Right after the teacher said that we should go home, I started feeling nauseous and vomited. I was taken by ambulance to HSI. Today I feel a bit better,” he said.
Intisar Nazihah Mohd Nazri, 16, who is from Harry’s school, said she was taken to HSI by her mum at around 9.30pm last night after she started feeling queasy.
“I felt a little dizzy in school ... but when I got home, I started vomiting. I was admitted around 1am and the doctor took a blood sample for testing,” she said.
As of now, 39 people — including 21 Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Taman Pasir Putih and Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Pasir Putih pupils — are being treated at HSI.
In yesterday’s story, Zone 1 Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (JBPM) deputy chief, Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, said they were called in after receiving a distress call at 5.15am about a possible gas leak and chemical spill in the vicinity of Sungai Kim Kim.
After investigating and detecting methane in the atmosphere, an evacuation of everyone within a 500m radius of the area was ordered.
JBPM Johor director, Datuk Yahaya Madis, said today that the clean-up operation ended last night at 8.30pm after the hazardous material (HazMat) team determined the river was safe.
He said further action will be taken by the Johor Environment Department, Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) and Pasir Gudang Municipal Council (MPPG). — Bernama