Residents evacuated from Woodlands condo after spill involving substances common in pesticides
SINGAPORE: About 100 people were evacuated from a condominium in Woodlands on Monday (Jun 21) morning after "a small spill" was found on a balcony in one of the units.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the incident at about 9.30am at 61 Rosewood Drive, where Rosewood Suites condominium is located.
"Upon arrival, SCDF officers identified a small spill at the balcony of a unit on the first floor," said SCDF.
Around 100 people from the affected block and neighbouring blocks were then evacuated by the police.
SCDF responders retrieved a small sample of the spill for testing and the affected area was subsequently neutralised with a decontaminant.
"The spill involved substances commonly found in pesticides," said SCDF.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes by 1.30pm.
As of 2.50pm on Monday, there were no reported injuries.
Speaking to CNA, domestic worker Daswati Simon Thomas said she heard the police knocking on the door and talking to her employer.
"There is the police, the ambulance and you know the fire engines coming. I think everybody scared when the police come knock and ask us to go out," said the 48-year-old.
Ms Thomas also said that police went from door to door to talk to residents and to evacuate them.
One Block 63 resident who only wanted to be known as Mrs Koh, 47, said she was cooking when a police officer knocked on her door at about 10.30am to tell her to evacuate due to a leak at nearby Block 61.
“We weren't sure what kind of leak, but we were good citizens so we followed what the policeman said,” she said.
As Mrs Koh was leaving the condo with her husband and two children, she said she saw SCDF personnel treating a man whom she believes is a resident of the affected unit.
“He looked okay, he didn’t look breathless or anything, but … I’m not sure if he was the one who called (SCDF),” she said.
Mrs Koh said she saw many police vehicles and people in hazardous material protective suits and thought the situation could be “really serious”.
“We trusted SCDF to do their job well, we just planned on cooperating so that there would be less chaos,” she said.
At the evacuation site, an open field opposite the condo, Mrs Koh said things were “a bit chaotic” at first.
Condo staff and security did not use loudhailers so residents could not hear them clearly, she said, adding that everyone was also trying to maintain a safe distance from each other.
Mrs Koh said she was also concerned about the elderly who had to wait under the sun and what the plan would be if it started raining.
“It was a bit difficult to understand what was happening but we just waited patiently,” she said.
“We were just concerned that people were not following safe management measures … because (there were) just too many people outside.”
Residents were told to organise themselves for a headcount and be prepared to wait for two hours, with all entrances to the condo sealed, Mrs Koh said.
Condo security officers also gave out their mobile numbers so residents could contact them if they wished to leave the area, she added.
But then the condo staff announced that residents of Block 63 could go home after about 45 minutes, while those from the affected block could go back after an hour, said Mrs Koh.
“The moment they said we could go back, everyone was just relieved,” she added.
“It looked really serious but after they said we could go home, maybe the chemical wasn’t that bad that they had to evacuate everybody.
“But I think they erred on the side of caution.”
Photos sent to CNA by a reader showed at least two fire trucks, several police cars, a hazmat vehicle, as well as a Crime Scene Investigation van at the scene.
A large crowd could also be seen on an empty field opposite the condominium.
CNA has contacted the management of Rosewood Suites condominium for comment.
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