A 32-year-old Indonesian migrant worker who was killed while cleaning a septic tank drainage channel at Senai International Airport was not wearing protective gear, according to police investigations.

It was also the first time Abdul Basit had taken on the job, Guang Ming Daily reported. Although he had been with the cleaning company for two years, Basit usually worked on road operations.

The migrant entered the drainage channel near Gate One at the airport at about noon on August 11, and complained he felt unwell from gas emissions, said Kulai Police Chief Supt Dzulkhairi Mukhtar.

“The victim entered the tank through a manhole without wearing any safety harness, and was exposed to ammonia and methane gases.”

Workmates Nazri Yasin, a 40-year-old Malaysian, and Sutrisno, a 44-year-old Indonesian, tried to rescue Basit, but were forced to give up after almost being overcome themselves by the gases. Basit eventually fell three metres into the tank and died, The Star Online reported.

Yasin and Sutrisno alerted a lorry driver, who called police. The duo were taken to Kulai Hospital for medical treatment, while Basit’s body was retrieved by firemen. The police ruled out foul play in the death.