Penang was in chaos yesterday as an hour-long thunderstorm wreaked havoc in several areas here, killing two people and injuring nine.
One of the dead was identified as 46-year-old Jahir Hussain Sulaiman, a co-driver of a lorry carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders who was crushed by a falling pole. Jahir is believed to have died of head injuries after his lorry was hit by a 40m section of a pole which ran alongside the 21-storey Menara Umno in Jalan Macalister.
In Air Itam, 32-year-old farmer Wong Tze Chow died after being hit by a falling tree on his way home from work.
The 6:45pm thunderstorm resulted in traffic congestion all over the state. Six cars were seen crushed by the giant white pole, which officials said was a lightning conductor. Old trees all over the island were uprooted and fell on vehicles as well as private and public properties.
One of the victims, who wished to be identified as Nur, 26, said she was driving to her office in Prai Industrial Zone from here when she heard a loud crack on the left of the road. She said, “It was raining heavily and suddenly a huge tree crashed on the windscreen of my car. I rushed out from the car and I am grateful that I was not injured”.
Jalan Macalister was chaotic as hundreds of people ran screaming from the Umno building towards nearby Jalan Zainal Abidin and adjoining roads to take shelter. State police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said Jalan Macalister was the worst hit. He urges everyone to remain calm as they are clearing the affected areas and reassures that all will be back to normal soon.
Seberang Prai was not spared either with dozens of trees uprooted and roofs being blown off. Mainland-bound traffic on the Penang Bridge was reduced to a standstill for one hour after uprooted trees along the bridge exit in Prai blocked the three-lane stretch.
Traffic congestion on the mainland eased at 8:20pm after firefighters cleared most of the fallen trees.
As at 10:30pm, the Fire and Rescue Department in Seberang Prai received more than 20 reports following the thunderstorm. On the island, police received similar reports as well as nine reports of injuries.