HAMILTON, New Zealand: New Zealand authorities are waiting for the green light from Aloysius Pang's family to conduct a post-mortem on the actor's body before he can be repatriated to Singapore.
An employee at Waikato Hospital’s mortuary, where Corporal First Class (National Service) Pang’s body is being held, said he knew “there was some urgency about wanting him to get back as soon as possible”.
“The coroner has a direction-in-principle to proceed with the post-mortem,” the mortuary technician told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Jan 24). “(But) they need the nod from the family.”
The technician declined to be named.
Pang, 28, died on Wednesday evening Singapore time, after sustaining serious injuries during a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training exercise in New Zealand.
He had been carrying out repair work inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer - an artillery gun mounted on an armoured chassis - with two other SAF personnel when the accident happened at the Waiouru Training Area on Jan 19.
He was evacuated to Waikato Hospital, a regional trauma centre, where he underwent a number of operations to treat his injuries.
"Despite surgical attempts to repair damaged organs and putting him on artificial life support, CFC (NS) Pang succumbed to the injuries and passed away," the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Wednesday.
The mortuary technician said military or police deaths in New Zealand typically fall under the coroner’s jurisdiction, adding that a post-mortem needs to be done before the body can be repatriated.
“There’s a specific piece of paper that we need, because I’m not allowed to take photos or blood, or anything like that, until we get the paper,” he said.
Once permission is granted by the family, the mortuary technician said the on-site post-mortem would take about two hours. The technician will assist a pathologist during the procedure.
Additional preparations could take another half hour, he added.
“Everything on our side is calm. We’re just waiting for everything to be in place.”
The SAF will make arrangements to bring Pang's body back to Singapore, MINDEF said.