Airport declared safe after sweep for toxic materials

Feb 26, 2017
Hazmat crews investigate the check in kiosk machines at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Malaysian police ordered a sweep of Kuala Lumpur airport for toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances following the killing of Kim Jong-nam. Photo by AP

The authorities have declared KL International Airport 2 a “safe place” after a sweep early today found no toxic materials in the wake of the killing of North Korean Kim Jong-nam there with what has been identified as the VX nerve agent.

“klia2 is a safe place,” declared Selangor police chief Abdul Samah Mat after the sweep operation from 1.45am to 3am by the Police Forensic Department, Fire and Rescue Department and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.

A Chemistry Department analysis had found that the VX nerve agent had been used to murder Jong-nam, estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at klia2 on Feb 13.

Abdul Samah said at a press conference that the sweep operation covered “all areas and locations related to the case” and found klia2 free from any contamination by hazardous materials.

He said the operation was conducted from 1.45am to 3am because there were fewer people at the airport at that time and the authorities did not wish to cause any unnecessary alarm.

“It was easier for us to conduct the sweep with less people around, ” he added.

A hazmat crew scan the decontamination zone at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 in Sepang, Malaysia on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Malaysian police ordered a sweep of Kuala Lumpur airport for toxic chemicals and other hazardous substances following the killing of Kim Jong-nam. Photo by AP

Asked why the authorities conducted the sweep 13 days after the murder, he saidthe police only received the preliminary analysis report of the Chemistry Department last Friday.

“We did this screening process following the result received from the Chemistry Department,” he said.

He also said that all Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad staff and the police personnel who had come into contact with Jong-nam and the murder suspects had undergone medical examination as a precautionary measure.

“All of them were subjected to the examination. If they have to go for a follow-up (examination), it is necessary that they do so,” he said.

Jong-nam was at the KL International Airport 2 (klia2) at 8am on Feb 13 to board a flight to Macau an hour later when two women suddenly appeared before him and wiped his face with the palms of their hands which contained a poisonous liquid.

Jong-nam sought help at a customer service counter at the airport and was rushed to the Putrajaya Hospital but died on the way. He had come to Malaysia on Feb 6 and carried a passport bearing the name Kim Chol.

The police had arrested two women – one bearing an Indonesian passport and the other a Vietnamese passport – and two men, one a Malaysian and the other a North Korean, following the murder.

Asked about the risk of any airline passenger having come into contact with the nerve agent on Feb 13, Abdul Samah said the effect would have been known much earlier.

“So far, we have not received any report from anybody with regard to this case,” he said.

Asked about reports that one of the women suspects had vomitted following the incident, Abdul Samah said she had vomitted in a taxi as she headed to another location.

“She did not vomit in police custody,” he said.

Questioned about the North Korean suspect, Abdul Samah said his remand was extended yesterday for seven more days.

On the samples reportedly taken by police from a condominium in Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur, he said the condominium was believed to have been rented by four suspects who left the country on the day of the killing. –Bernama

SHARE