'It did not smell like normal haze'

Residents in eastern part of S'pore alarmed by 'burning smell'

A burning smell hung over the east side of the island on Thursday night.

This prompted several residents in areas such as Tampines to call The New Paper.

A caller, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, 63, said that the smell was "toxic and unbearable", and he had to see the doctor yesterday.

He was given one day's medical leave.

"My flat is on a high floor in Tampines and the smell was terrible," he said.

"At 8pm, I looked out of the window and it was darker than usual, then the wind blew into my house and I started coughing."

Another Tampines resident, full-time national serviceman Shaun Tan, 21, said he was annoyed with the smell.


"The smell reminded me of my childhood when my grandmother would burn incense paper and put the ashes into my water to drink for good luck," he said.

"My father has asthma problems and it affected him too," he added.

Asked where he thought the smell was from, he said: "Indonesia, where else? The usual culprit."

Driver Ishak Saruan, 68, also complained of a "strong burning smell" as he was driving from Tampines to Simei.

"It did not smell like the normal haze," he said.

"Perhaps the authorities should issue an early warning so that people with asthma can be cautious."

Complaints about the air quality spilt onto the Internet. The 24-hour PSI readings in the eastern part of Singapore yesterday were between 71 and 79, which meant the air quality was moderate.

In contrast, PSI readings in other parts of Singapore, even though still in the moderate range, was from 56 to 63.

But Dr Ong Kian Chung, a respiratory medicine specialist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, thinks that residents at Tampines should not be too worried about the smell.

Dr Ong said: "The smell could be due to the higher concentration of sulphur dioxide in the pollutant concentration, which gives rise to a burning smell.

"People should adjust their activities according to the health advisories given by the National Environment Agency (NEA)."

According to the NEA's website, the concentration of sulphur dioxide in the eastern part of Singapore was indeed higher than the rest of the island.

An NEA spokesman said they were alerted to a burning smell experienced by residents in Pasir Ris, Tampines and Bedok on Thursday night.

The spokesman said the Singapore Civil Defence Force has confirmed that there were no fires reported in the affected areas mentioned.

"The air quality in Singapore has remained in the moderate range, and NEA will continue to monitor the air quality readings and notify the public if there are any changes to the PSI," he said.

"NEA has also contacted our Malaysian counterparts to inquire if they had seen any changes in the air quality in Johor."