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Parts of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to be temporarily closed after man and 2-year-old daughter fell into hole in bridge

LaksaNews

Myth
Member
SINGAPORE: Parts of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve will be temporarily closed following an incident in which a man and his two-year-old daughter fell into a hole in a bridge during heavy rain.

Responding to CNA queries, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Jan 25) it was aware of the incident that affected a family on Monday.

“The area was cordoned off following the incident, and the gap has been closed off after the water receded,” said NParks group director of conservation Lim Liang Jim.

“We are currently monitoring the water levels in the reserve closely and will undertake temporary closure to sections that may be subject to intermittent flooding.”

THE INCIDENT​


The incident was detailed in an Instagram post by Bucky Hussain, who described what had happened to him and his family on Monday, the second day of the Chinese New Year holidays.

It was between 11am and 12pm that Mr Hussain's family - comprising himself, his wife and two children - were rushing to leave the nature park because of torrential rain.

While crossing a bridge that was covered in "a good 3 to 5cm of water", Mr Hussain said he and his two-year-old daughter, Ashley, fell "into a huge hole", and into water that had turned "dark and muddy".

Immediately wrapping his arms around his daughter to "stop her from floating away", Mr Hussain said he "couldn't feel the bottom" and that if he had let go, the two of them were "going to be sucked under the bridge".

Both he and his daughter managed to get back onto the bridge, and he described in the post that they were "seconds away from drowning".

The hole, he said, was a "literal death trap" and it would have been much worse if a child or older person had fallen in.

"NO SIGNAGE"​


Mr Hussain wrote that there was nothing - "no signage, no barriers" - to indicate that the bridge was damaged and because the water was dark and muddy, there was no way to "differentiate the hole from the remaining planks making up the bridge".

Seeing the danger the hole posed, Mr Hussain and his family stayed back a few minutes to warn others. Together with passers-by who had helped them earlier, they tried to patch the hole with some planks they had found, he said.

As he wanted to inform NParks about the incident, Mr Hussain and his family made their way to the visitor centre, where there was no staff, he said. After waiting “for a long time”, his wife dialled 995 and was directed to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

However, SCDF’s reply to the call left him "in shock". He said that the operator had told him that if he did not need an emergency ambulance, then he should "address this to the right agency".

In a comment in the post made on Wednesday, Mr Hussain said that SCDF had reached out and apologised for how the operator handled the incident.

SCDF said it is looking into the matter, in response to queries from CNA.

NPARKS' RESPONSE​


In the media statement on Wednesday, NParks said the incident had taken place at a crossing of a sluice gate. “Waters had overflowed during the peak of the spring tide coupled with heavy rain that dislodged the floor panels, exposing a gap,” said Mr Lim of NParks.

Praising NParks, Mr Hussian told CNA that the agency's response "so far has been as good as can be hoped for". He said an NParks director had "officially and personally reached out" and "committed to a bunch of improvements, not least patching the hole nearly immediately after".

Mr Lim also said in Wednesday's statement that NParks had spoken to the family and thanked them for helping to inform other park visitors about the gap and notifying staff of the situation to rectify it.

“For their safety, members of the public should seek cover at the nearest shelter available, and avoid entering the nature reserves and forested areas including Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve during and immediately after inclement weather,” he added.

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