Dozens injured in Malaysia after gas-filled balloons explode at public event

KUALA TERENGGANU - Dozens of people were injured after gas-filled balloons exploded at a public event in Malaysia's Kuala Terengganu, Malaysian media reported.

Some 31 people were injured, many of them children, after the explosion which happened on Friday (Oct 21) morning during the 'Walk for the Blind' event, The Star reported. The event was organised by the Terengganu Health Department in conjunction with the 2016 World Sight Day.

According to a Bernama report, the incident occurred after an official attempted to release the tethered balloons with a cigarette lighter during the event.

Police are investigating the incident. Many of those hurt had sustained injuries on their head, face and hands and were taken to hospital, the police said.

Pending the outcome of the investigations, the state government on Saturday said it has temporarily banned gas-filled balloons at its events. 

"We are saddened at what happened. A police report has been lodged and I urge all agencies to carry out their investigations," Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying in a New Straits Times report. 

It was unclear what substances had caused the balloons to explode. The Star newspaper in a video report on its website on Saturday said the balloons had been filled with hydrogen gas. 

Mr Ahmad Razif said the gas in the balloons was highly flammable, given that the balloons exploded after they were set alight, the New Straits Times reported

Seven people were warded in hospital following the incident, with one patient being treated in the intensive care unit. Another 24 received outpatient treatment on Friday, the New Straits Times cited the director of the hospital where the victims were being treated as saying.

The Star earlier reported that three people were in critical condition.

All of those warded were in stable condition, although they needed to be observed closely, the New Straits Times said