SINGAPORE: An elderly couple was trapped for more than two hours in a lift at an HDB block in Yishun on New Year's Day and had to be pulled out through a small gap.
Mrs Amy Yong, 79, and her husband Mr Michael Yong, 81, were making their way home from church at about 10am when the lift malfunctioned.
The couple live on the second floor of Blk 637A Yishun Street 61. There is only one lift servicing the four-storey block.
"They had stopped by the market just after church," the couple's son, Mr Stephen Yong, 58, told Channel NewsAsia. "They came back, hit the (button for the) second floor, the doors shut and jammed.
"The lift moved for a second then it stopped," he said, adding that the lift was stuck between the first and second floors.
The couple's son said that responders from Nee Soon Town Council arrived within 12 minutes after his parents rang the emergency button.
Mr and Mrs Yong, who did not have their mobile phones on them, had used the responders' phone to call their son.
The town council responders managed to open the doors of the lift, but could not get it to work and so contacted Sigma, the lift maintenance company, the son said. But when Sigma arrived, they too could not get the lift to restart "because of a problem with spare parts", he added.
By this time, his parents - who have high blood pressure - had been trapped for more than one hour and were beginning to get giddy. Mr Yong too was "already panicking and very pale", said his son.
"They (Sigma) wanted to go to another building to get the spare parts. I stopped them because we didn’t know how long it would take. It could take another hour or so," the couple's son said.
At this point, Mr and Mrs Yong's daughter, Ms Veronica Yong, 55, who had also arrived at the scene, decided to call the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), who arrived within 10 minutes.
SCDF said it was alerted to the incident at about 11.50am.
"Upon arrival, there were chairs already placed inside the lift. SCDF officers then entered the lift through a gap from the second floor and hoisted the couple out while they were sitting on the chairs," SCDF said.
Mrs Yong was pulled out of the lift at about 12.40pm, her son said. Mr Yong was pulled out shortly after.
Mr and Mrs Yong's son said that paramedics assessed his parents at the scene and found that they had elevated blood pressure. His parents declined to be taken to the hospital for further checks, he added.
"I want to raise the issue of poor lift conditions and the good work of the SCDF," Mr and Mrs Yong's daughter said. "I heard my neighbour saying recently that it (the lift) had malfunctioned."
Her brother added: "There are a lot of elderly staying here. If the maintenance of the elevator is not working, it's very bad for them."
TOWN COUNCIL AWAITING SIGMA'S REPORT
In response to queries, a spokesperson from Nee Soon Town Council said on Tuesday that it is awaiting Sigma's report on the cause of problem.
"The lifts are proprietary to Sigma and the town council is working very hard with Sigma to solve the issues on the ground."
According to the spokesperson, town council staff also met Mr and Mr Yong who were "very understanding" of the situation. "Their well-being remains our priority," she added.
A Sigma spokesperson said on Tuesday that the company is working to gather more information as quickly as possible.
Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim told Channel NewsAsia that he visited Mr and Mrs Yong on the evening of the incident "to make sure they are ok".
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Assoc Prof Faishal also praised the SCDF officers for their swift response to the incident.
"The officers acted decisively and ‘saved the day’. It was a holiday but they did not let their guard down. Our residents felt safe in their steady hands," he wrote.