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Stranded 8 storeys high

For close to four hours, they held on to their dear lives eight storeys high in the 30 deg C heat.

The gondola they were standing in to perform maintenance works on a stadium floodlight had broken down and tilted at an angle.

There was no way down for the two Bangladeshi workers, Mr Akabbar Ali Liakat Ali and Mr Mohammed Mohzammel Haque Mohammed Mahshin Ali, who are in their early 30s. They held on to the gondola's railings to prevent themselves from falling out.

But their ordeal at the Delta Sports Complex in Tiong Bahru was not over when Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel came to their rescue.

Instead of being lowered to safety, the workers had to climb down a 30m-long combined platform ladder on a fire engine because the ladder could not be lowered due to a glitch.

SCDF officers decided that climbing down was the best way to get the workers to safety quickly, as deploying a second ladder would take up more time. They escorted the workers down the ladder, ensuring that they were safe.

It was 3.30pm yesterday when the workers finally got back to the ground.

Polytechnic student Alvin Lee, 22, who lives in a flat opposite the sports complex, said he heard sirens at around 2.30pm.

From his kitchen window, he could see SCDF and police vehicles parked downstairs. Firemen were also preparing to extend the combined platform ladder.

"I looked towards the direction where the ladder was pointed at and realised that they were trying to rescue people from the floodlight at the sports complex," said Mr Lee.

He ran downstairs to take a closer look and saw two men trapped on each side of the gondola.

Mr Lee said: "I was really shocked to see them stuck so high up. I was afraid the gondola might come loose and drop."

He added that the two workers looked calm throughout the rescue.

Mr Santosam, a security officer who lives on the 6th storey of Block 103 Henderson Crescent, had a good view of the incident from his flat directly opposite the floodlight.

He said he first realised that the two workers were in trouble when he looked out of his flat around noon, and immediately called the sports complex office.

"They told me that they were already attending to the situation. But for the next 1½ hours, I just watched them surround the floodlight and talk among themselves, while the two men were still stuck up there.

"It was incredibly hot and I could not bear to see the two men trapped under the heat for so long, so I decided to call the emergency services to rescue them," said the 58-year-old.

Mr S Parameswaran, assistant director of corporate communicationsat the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) said the two workers found out the gondola could not be lowered at around 11.30am.

RESCUE

SSC's maintenance officer and a specialist in the gondola's operating system were informed of the situation and arrived at the scene within an hour.

They initially planned to rescue the workers with a boom lift but could not find one in time, said Mr Parameswaran.

He added that throughout the rescue, the two men were in constant contact with their supervisor and SSC staff through their mobile phones.

They were reminded to keep their safety gear intact, hold tight to the gondola and hydrate themselves with the bottles of water they had with them.

SCDF said they received a call at 1.29pm and dispatched one fire engine, one Red Rhino, one ambulance and two combined ladder platforms.

They arrived at the scene within 10 minutes, and deployed two safety life air packs below the gondola as a precautionary measure.

Both men were secured with safety harnesses and carabiners before they were escorted by SCDF personnel down the ladder.

They were later discharged from Alexandra Hospital.