4 of 5 victims of hotpot restaurant flash fire planning to seek compensation

SINGAPORE - Four out of the five women who ended up in hospital with scalds and burns from a fire at a hotpot restaurant on Saturday are planning to seek compensation from the restaurant's owner.

According to a report in Chinese newspaper Wanbao, three of the victims intend to hire lawyers.

The five women, two of whom suffered third degree burns on their faces, were injured after an allegedly faulty gas canister caused a flash fire at Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat.

In the days since the fire, the restaurant has remained open and business has been normal. At 9pm on Tuesday night, a Wanbao reporter observed that more than 10 tables at the Beach Road eatery were occupied by customers.

In an interview with the paper, the restaurant owner said that he could not afford to close his business as profit margins have not been high and monthly rental for the store costs $26,000.

Out of the five casualties taken to the Singapore General Hospital, three have since been discharged.

A 29-year-old Thai singer, one of two women still at SGH with third degree burns to their faces, wants to be discharged as she is afraid that she will not be able to afford treatment, said the Wanbao report.

The single mother of two, a seven-year-old boy and a nine-month-old girl, came to Singapore in December last year and began singing in pubs and karaoke lounges.

She had hoped to be able to save enough money to return to Thailand to build a house. She sustained burns on her back, forehead and both arms.

melheng@sph.com.sg