By JAYNE SAFIHAO, The National
ONE man has been shot dead and another wounded by police who tried to stop looting as fire gutted the Martin Tsang business compound in Madang on Saturday.
According to the accident and emergency staff of Modilon Hospital, the man, aged 28 from Chimbu but a resident of Sisiak, was shot in the face at close range by police.
The hospital also confirmed treating another bullet wound patient but did not elaborate.
There was no official statement from Madang police about the two shootings.
Looters, however, managed to raid several containers and some sections of the compound in the fire, which raged all day.
Madang fire station commander Insp Robert Wandokun said the fire started in the morning in the main office area of the warehouse and spread quickly.
He said the whole area was locked up, making it difficult for firemen to get inside to use their hoses.
“It is too early to determine the cause of the blaze,” Wandokun said, adding that a senior investigator was expected today from Port Moresby to assess the damage.
A fenced-in compound area was badly damaged.
It housed the two major Martin Tsang wholesale, which distributes to almost all businesses and government institutions in Madang.
The main supermarket and the head office contained three safes, one of which was nearly ransacked but police arrived in time to disperse the mob.
Also destroyed by fire were the company’s armoured vehicle and a new forklift.
Police were tipped off of mass looting on Saturday morning and were out in strength on foot and vehicle, patrolling around the town area.
“We did not see anything suspicious and were pulling out when we heard of the fire and came back,” one policeman said.
By 4.45pm, the fire raged 2m high helped by the southerly  wind which caused the fire to spread from the back (office) towards the midsection and backwards towards Lutheran Shipping, adjacent to the compound.
Saved were the staff’s two-storey residence, although ransacked, the mini fuel tank pump station and several containers of merchandise.
Yesterday, the firemen were still trying to put out the burning embers, which threatened to spread.