Adulterated helium probable cause of balloon explosion

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – The gas-inflated balloon explosion incident at Dataran Putrajaya in Malaysia recently was probably caused by the use of helium that has been mixed with other gases to reduce cost, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.

She said if the gases were mixed, it could really spell danger and disaster.

“If it is just helium (being used), it is not so worrying because I know for sure that if it’s not mixed (with other gases), there will be no problem.

“But if helium is mixed with other gases to lower the cost, that is worrying,” she told reporters here in response to the balloon explosion incident at the tail end of the Education Ministry’s 2019 National Sports Month event recently, which hurt 16 people including nine children.

Dr Wan Azizah was met after the presentation of the offer letters for Kuala Lumpur City Hall People’s Housing Project Transit Homes yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail mingles with crowd during the presentation of the offer letters for Kuala Lumpur City Hall People’s Housing Project Transit Homes. PHOTO: BERNAMA

Police believed that the incident occurred when someone tried to cut the string tied to a bunch of balloons with a lighter, and the flame is believed to have struck one of the balloons before the whole bunch exploded.

All victims, aged between four and their 30s, were rushed to the Putrajaya Hospital. Of the total, five adults and an eight-year-old girl were receiving treatment for a second-degree burn.

So far, Dr Wan Azizah said four of the victims were reported stable.

“They comprise three adults and a child. They are stable now but still need further treatment before they can be discharged,” she said. She said the Social Welfare Department had also provided counselling aid to the traumatised victims.

To prevent recurrence of the incident, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, reminded the public not to smoke or use a cigarette lighter near helium gas-inflated balloons used as props at any event.

She said she had also talked to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik and Deputy Minister Teo Nie Ching pertaining to safety guidelines to ensure that the incident will not recur.