DUNGUN, Malaysia - 24 workers at the Petronas gas processing plant in Kertih were admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties caused by a gas leak on Thursday.
Around 300 workers were about to start maintenance work shortly after 8pm when they had to rush out of the plant after smelling the gas, believed to be ammonia.
Eight of the workers were sent to Dungun Hospital while 16 others received treatment at the Paka clinic.
One worker, Wan Mohd Yuzairi Wan Ismail, 28, was transferred to the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu.
Five others, Muhamad Sardjuni Abdullah, 48, Mohd Firdaus Mohd Ibrahim, 23, Mohd Zawawi Lokman, 27, Mohd Saiful Rizal Saidin, 25, and Wan Mohd Shapawi Wan Ibrahim, 36, were warded. Two received outpatient treatment at the hospital here.
Shamsul Fitri Mohamad, 21, said he just started his shift with 50 others when the incident occurred.
"We barely started installing some scaffolding when my supervisor alerted me and others about a gas leak through the walkie-talkie."
He rushed towards the main gate with other workers but the situation turned chaotic when an acrid smell began to spread throughout the area.
"Everyone was shouting as the overpowering smell engulfed us and we panicked when we saw that the main gate was locked."
Shamsul Fitri said three of his friends had fainted by the time they opened the gate 15 minutes later.
The Petronas East Coast Regional office issued a statement yesterday, saying the suspected ammonia leak was not caused by any of its plants in the petroleum industry complex.
The company said it was believed to have come from an external plant not related to Petronas.
As of noon yesterday, all but one of the workers had been discharged.