KUCHING: Staff members of NeNe Chicken Restaurant at CityOne Megamall was in the midst of a meeting when the explosion occurred at the outlet last Tuesday.

The meeting was to finalise  preparations and get the employees ready for its first day of business the next day, said State Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (Operations) Tiong Ling Hii yesterday.

When asked on the progress of the investigation into Tuesday’s blast which killed three and injured 41 others, he said that the meeting was conducted by the outlet’s manager.

He added that the details as to the number of people who attended the meeting could not be disclosed as victims were still traumatised.

NeNe Chicken is South Korea’s largest fried chicken chain. Its outlet in CityOne would be its second branch in Sarawak with the first at Plaza Merdeka.

Meanwhile, Tiong said that based on the department’s initial investigations, a leakage at the reducer of the outlet’s gas piping system was the source of explosion.

He added that the people at scene were ill-equipped and had little knowledge of what to do when the incident occurred.

Tiong also urged corporate bodies and building owners to give due importance to fire and emergency drills conducted by Bomba and other uniformed bodies at their premises.

“Set up an emergency committee within the organisation to prepare themselves in times of emergencies.

“The drills will also equip the employees concerned and members of the public.

“Otherwise, we will face another tragedy which happened at CityOne. No one was able to tell us how many people were injured and so forth. We had to do the calculations by ourselves and missed out some as they had gone to private hospitals,” he lamented.

Tiong added there were many simple precautionary steps which all workers, assigned for duties in the kitchen should know, including to check on possible leakage of the gas piping system.

“It is so simple. Use some foam and pour over the pipes. If there is leakage, you can see bubbles. This is what we teach during training,” he said.