PORT DICKSON: A tremendous crashing sound, followed by screams from guests of the Avillion Hotel at Jalan Pantai here in the wee hours of Tuesday morning shocked the hotel's security guards, who were patrolling the area at the time.
One of the guards, who refused to be named, said he heard a loud bang and ran to the hotel's top floor to check the situation.
"It was chaotic and dark. I heard the guests' voices, who were crying for help. When I went to the affected room, I saw that the victims were trapped under the rubble," he said.
"I tried to pull them out, to no avail. My colleague then made an emergency call to the Fire and Rescue Department," he said.
In the 4am incident, three guests narrowly escaped death when the rooftop of the hotel and the ceiling of their double-storey room on the seventh floor collapsed.
Two victims, aged 51 and 52, who were sleeping in a room on the upper floor of the duplex, sustained head and bodily injuries, while their 27-year-old son, who was sleeping downstairs, escaped unhurt.
Meanwhile, State Fire and Rescue Department director Norazam Khamis said initial investigations found that the incident may have been caused by a water heater explosion.
However, he said the probe is ongoing, and that the Department has issued an order for the hotel’s management to temporarily close the affected building until the investigation is completed.
"Only one room was involved in the incident, believed to be caused by a water heater exploding in the bathroom. So far, the building is still safe," he said.
Avillion Hotel Group acting chief executive officer, Amirul Azhar Baharom, said the hotel’s management deeply regrets the incident.
"Our guests' safety is our utmost priority, and the family of three who sustained minor injuries have received treatment as outpatients at Port Dickson Hospital. They are now back at the resort to rest, and resort staff are at hand to provide them with full support,” he said in a statement.
“State Fire and Rescue Department director Norazam Khamis has said that the first to third floors of the block, which mainly consists of meeting rooms, are safe to be occupied, but the management has decided to temporarily shut down the whole block and (we have) moved our guests to a different block.
“We are currently working closely with authorities in the investigation, and our in-house structural engineers will be joining the (probe). Only one room was affected and we would appreciate it if no further speculation is made until the investigation is concluded,” he added.