SINGAPORE: Two men washing the facade of Block 451 in Yishun Ring Road were rescued by firefighters on Monday (Apr 15), after the gondola they were on suffered a technical glitch.
Due to the glitch, the men were unable to bring the gondola down and were trapped for about 20 minutes, according to witnesses.
Both men are in their 30s and from India. They were washing the facade of the block to prepare it for painting when the incident happened.
When CNA arrived at the scene at about 12.50pm, the men had been rescued but the gondola remained stuck in a lopsided position.
A rescue vehicle and fire engine from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were also at the scene.
A man was seen in an ambulance, about to be taken to hospital.
"Two workers were trapped on a slanted gondola, which was immobile and suspended between the fifth and sixth floors," said SCDF, who were alerted to the incident at 12pm.
"One of the workers was rescued by SCDF using an aerial appliance and the other worker was rescued through the window of a sixth floor unit which SCDF had forced entry into," it added.
One of the workers suffered minor injuries and was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. The other worker was not injured.
ALL WORKS INVOLVING GONDOLA TO BE STOPPED: PROJECT MANAGER
Sembawang Town Council said in response to queries from CNA that the workers were hired by their contractor, Choice Decor Co-operative Society, to carry out repair and redecoration works at the block.
"They were washing the facade of the building to prepare for repainting," said Sembawang Town Council.
"While the cause of this incident is under investigation by the Ministry of Manpower, we have instructed all works involving gondola to be stopped immediately until further notice," it said.
The town council added that the contractor will ensure that the injured worker is fully recovered before he returns to work.
MEN WERE RESCUED IN 10-15 MINUTES: EYEWITNESS
“I think there were two men on the gondola, they were washing the building, and there was a motor problem - so the gondola couldn’t come down. The fire service then helped them to come down,” said a 35-year-old construction worker, who wanted to only be known as Mani.
“The SCDF used a ladder to bring the guys down,” added Mani, who was carrying out works at an adjacent block at the time.
The project manager of the site, who wanted only to be known as Mr Kwa, said that the incident happened at around noon.
“The men were brought down within 10 to 15 minutes. (SCDF) also set up a bag in case. But, our men also had their harness and life lines, so everything was secure," he said.
“The gondola jerked and one of the guys got injured when he hit his head, it’s a small cut but he’s okay."
RESIDENT'S DOOR, GATE, WINDOW BROKEN
A resident of Block 451, Mrs Lee, 50, a sales director, said that the SCDF had to forcibly gain entry into her flat to conduct rescue operations, as she was not home at the time.
"The gondola was stuck right in front of my unit, and they had to break down my door, the gate and room window. I was at work and arrived at my house around 1.30pm," said Mrs Lee.
“I was at Tampines for work and the police called my son, who is in the army. When my son called me and said that something is happening at our house, I immediately rushed back. When I reached at 1.30pm, I saw that my gates were already locked and then saw what actually happened,” Mrs Lee added.
When CNA visited Mrs Lee's home, a broken bed frame resulting from rescue efforts was seen in the room.
“The contractors responsible said that they will get both the doors and gates repaired and get the same quality for both, although the design may be different," said Mrs Lee.
“But they mentioned that they have to go back to a HDB-appointed contractor for the door and gate. I told them I wanted both changed because it cannot be repaired anymore - it’s quite bad and even part of my flooring is affected.”
Under recent amendments to the Civil Defence Act, SCDF officers are now explicitly allowed to forcibly enter a person's home and remove obstacles that block their way to perform emergency and rescue operations in non-fire fighting cases.
Another resident, Mr Ho, 53, said that he saw the men in the gondola outside his flat. When CNA visited Mr Ho's flat at about 2pm, the gondola could still be seen from his living room.
“I was coming back from work around 12 plus and my curtains were closed, so I didn’t realise anything. Then, I noticed that there were many onlookers from the adjacent school, and I realised that something was wrong.
“When I opened the curtains, I saw the worker and opened the windows. The worker wanted to climb into my window but it was too dangerous."