SINGAPORE: Residents of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats at multiple locations in Singapore have complained of "exploding floor tiles" in their homes over the weekend.
Cases were reported in Punggol, Sengkang, Bukit Panjang, Woodlands, Hougang and Jurong West.
Mr Bobin Thomas, his wife and two children woke up to the sound of floor tiles in their dining room "exploding" one by one in their flat at Block 638A Punggol Drive on Sunday (Jan 14) morning.
Mr Thomas told Channel NewsAsia that when he and his wife saw the tiles start bending inwards, they immediately grabbed their children, a two-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy, and left the house.
"The tiles started bending inwards one by one (like there was) an invisible force. It was like something you see in the movies," said Mr Thomas.
"We called our children and got ourselves out of there," added the 35-year-old IT engineer.
As the family tried to navigate their way out, Mr Thomas said the tiles they stepped on wobbled and sank slightly.
"At the time, we thought that the building was about to collapse. It only became clear our unit was the only one affected when we saw that none of our neighbours were leaving," he said.
It was only when the family was safely in a friend's unit at a nearby block did Mr Thomas, who is a tenant at the unit, call the owner of the flat to inform him of the situation. The owner later contacted HDB.
According to Mr Thomas, a contractor later visited the unit and covered the affected tiles with cardboard.
The family will stay in a nearby apartment temporarily while their HDB flat undergoes repairs.
"It was just not possible for us to go back there. We have two kids and we don't know what might happen if the tiles explode again," he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Zul Effandy, who lives at Block 185, Jelebu Road at Bukit Panjang, told Channel NewsAsia that he and his wife were watching television at about 8pm when he suddenly heard a "cracking sound" from underneath the carpet in the living room.
As the sound got louder, the pair jumped from their seats and backed away to safety, Mr Zul said. When the sound stopped, they pulled away the carpet to see that the tiles had "exploded".
"We are worried. I keep thinking it will happen again. I don't think we will get a good night's sleep tonight," he added.
Mr Zul said that this is the first time the floor tiles have cracked since he moved in in 2000.
In another case, Madam Ng Siew Hoon, a resident at Jurong West, said she was "scared" by what sounded like a "loud explosion" to her.
"Within five minutes, there was a loud explosion sound, like fireworks. Then all my floor (tiles) all cracked, from the door to the window. And the tiles in front of my toilet doors also. I was very scared and I called for help, called for my husband to come out and have a look," she told Channel NewsAsia.
Mr Frederick Goh, who lives at Block 686C Woodlands Drive 73, said he heard cracking sounds in his flat just after midnight on Monday.
As of Monday morning, Mr Goh reported that the tiles in his home still seemed to be cracking "once in a while". He has reached out to HDB which has said it will send someone to inspect his unit.
Mr Tan Chim Hoon, adviser at Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association, said poor workmanship may be a possible cause of the cracks, and the recent chilly weather may be another reason.
"Now it's very cold or very hot. And there's a little bit of vibration. So this causes the tiles to have no place to expand. Because of this, the tiles all pop up," he said.
In a Facebook post on Monday, HDB said should residents face such issues, they should carefully move the dislodged titles to a safe area and cover the affected area with cardboard.
For advice on repair work, HDB added that homeowners can call its branch hotline at 1800-225-5432. HDB will then send someone to visit the affected flat and provide a list of contractors who can carry out the repair work.
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