Nine people, including two children, were killed in two separate pre-dawn fires yesterday in Malaysia's Selangor state.
In the first incident, the remains of an elderly couple - aged 73 and 68 - were found along with the bodies of their grandsons, aged nine and three. The discovery came after a team of firemen put out the fire that razed the family's wooden house in Banting, following an emergency call at 6.08am.
The deceased have been identified as 73-year-old Chia Tee Nang, 68-year-old Lim Mai Shak, and Chua Yan Bin, three, while the name of the nine-year-old is yet to be determined.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Mohd Sani Harul said the house was completely destroyed.
"The charred remains have been sent to the Banting district hospital where post-mortems will be conducted," he said.
The case has been reclassified as murder after investigators found elements of foul play.
Selangor crime investigation department chief Fadzil Ahmat said police found stab and slash wounds on three of the victims' bodies.
"It prompted us to reclassify the case as murder. We believe that they could have been killed before the house was set ablaze. However, we will only be able to determine the real cause of death once the post-mortem results are out.
"We're also probing whether they were robbed before their house was set on fire, and possible act of revenge," he said.
Kuala Langat district police chief Azizan Tukiman told The Straits Times that initial investigations by the Fire and Rescue Department found that a flammable object had been thrown into the house to start the fire. "Based on our findings, the family car, which was parked in front of the house, was used as a trigger - the vehicle's petrol cap was removed. That pretty much answered how the car blew up, accelerating the whole process," he said.
In the second case, four elderly residents and a 25-year-old caretaker died after a fire razed a nursing home for the elderly in Sungai Long, Kajang.
Mr Sani said his department received a distress call at about 5am.
He said the victims had been identified as Leow Chong Fatt, Teo Hoi Foo, Kwan Sak Seen and Lai Siew Ying, all in their 60s and 70s, and the caretaker as Awis Muhammad.
Four other occupants of the home managed to escape, he said.