King: All must help Sungai Lembing fire victims to rebuild

An elderly couple died when fire razed a century-old row of houses in Sungai Lembing on Aug 31. (Bernama pic)

KUANTAN: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, has called on all parties to help victims of last month’s disastrous Sungai Lembing fire to rebuild their houses.

Sultan Abdullah said that he had been informed that most victims were staying with their relatives, while several families had nowhere to go. “Priority must be given to those in need of housing,” he said.

An elderly couple, Ho Yuk Fun, 74, and Chow Kim Mui, 70, perished after being trapped in their two-storey wooden shophouse, when fire razed a century-old row of houses. The 1.30 am blaze on Aug 31 destroyed 20 two-storey wooden shophouses, 11 single storey houses and a library.

Sultan Abdullah, who is Sultan of Pahang, said he was saddened by the loss of two senior citizens in this incident.

He visited the town today, during which he distributed aid to 29 families at the temporary relief centre at Sungai Lembing Chinese primary school.

“I was told that the buildings here are old and decrepit, this could be dangerous and I want this matter to be given due attention as this could lead to another fatal incident. I hope the residents can get ready (to move) and discuss with the authorities to find an alternative location because this place looks dangerous,” he said.

Sultan Abdullah said that he would personally monitor the redevelopment of the affected area.

Accompanying the king on his visit were the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, and Pahang Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and State Secretary Dr Sallehuddin Ishak.

DNA tests confirm Chow Kim Mui’s death

Forensic testing has confirmed the death of Chow Kim Mui, 70, in the fire which consumed her shophouse.

Pahang police chief Abd Jalil Hassan said DNA testing on bone specimens found at the site have confirmed the remains to be that of Chow.

“The DNA result also confirmed that the remains were those of only one person. We initially thought they were of two persons, the other being Chow’s husband Ho Yuk Fun who had not been found, which led us to think they were locked in an embrace.

“However, the Fire and Rescue Department recently handed over bone fragments that they found on Sept 2 while clearing up the area around the victim’s home, and we will send these for DNA testing,” he told Bernama here today.

It is understood that the bone fragments are still being analysed by an orthopaedic specialist at Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here before being sent to the chemistry department.

Yuk Fun, 74, and Chow, who operated a food stall, were believed to have perished after being trapped in the 1.30am fire.

Firefighters found charred remains of only one person at 6am, which they believed were that of a woman based on the accessories. The search for the second victim was called off at 3.15pm on Sept 1 after failing to find any new leads despite using tracking dogs.

The fire and rescue department later handed over the investigation to police as a missing person case.