Three Malaysians die in suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in their vehicle

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GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 21-year-old pharmacy student, the sole survivor of a carbon monoxide poisoning case which killed three others, remained in critical condition on Saturday (Sept 19) at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

The four young women, all 21 years old, were suspected to have inhaled carbon monoxide on Thursday (Sept 17) while resting in their minivan at the parking lot of a petrol station in Sama Gagah on mainland Penang.

The carbon monoxide was believed to have seeped into their vehicle due to a faulty air conditioning system, killing three of the college students who had gone out for an outing while awaiting graduation.

Penang police chief Commissioner Sahabudin Abd Manan said CCTV footage obtained from the petrol station showed nothing was amiss from outside the vehicle.

"The car was not parked there for long. There were many cars there at that time and everything looked normal. The workers did not notice anything amiss," he said on Friday (Sept 18).

The four close friends early on Thursday went on an outing to Pulau Jerejak off Penang.

It was understood that they were on their way home to Sungai Petani and Gurun in Kedah state, when they stopped to eat and rest inside their vehicle.

Ms Nor Aqilah Mohd Safwan is hospitalised at a military hospital in Kuala Lumpur.

Her twin sister, Nor Adilah, died on Thursday while receiving treatment in the intensive care unit of a military hospital in Lumut, Perak.

The two other victims were Sharifah Fariesha Syed Fathi and Ayuni Shazwanie Shabri.

Meanwhile, Alliance for Safe Community chairman Lee Lam Thye said the tragedy could have been prevented if the students were aware of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.

"This tragic incident highlighted the importance of educating people about safety and health. Generally, more carbon monoxide is generated from incomplete combustion which happens when the fuel is not burnt completely in the engine combustion chamber, " he said.

"This causes exhaust gas to be emitted to the atmosphere via the exhaust pipe. But there could be leakage and some gas would find its way to the passenger's compartment."

Tan Sri Lee said at the community level, the government needed to create more safety awareness programmes involving NGOs like his group.

"Car companies can help by informing their customers of the dos and don'ts in a moving or stationary vehicle as well.

"Such warnings are especially important when children are involved," he said. "There had been too many cases of children being left in cars while their parents go shopping. It only takes an hour for a child in such circumstances to suffer from head injury or hyperthermia."

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