Driver and boss escape Hilton hotel driveway ceiling collapse by mere seconds
Four taken to hospital after ceiling falls at Hilton Singapore entrance
He had just picked up his boss at Hilton Singapore hotel in a car and was about to turn from the driveway into Orchard Road when he heard a loud crash.
"I turned around and saw that part of the ceiling above the main entrance had collapsed," personal driver Mohamed Salleh Selamat, 57, told The New Paper yesterday.
"My boss and I were both shocked as we were at that very spot just seconds ago. We missed the collapse by seconds."
At least two other vehicles - a white taxi and a Malaysian-registered black car - were not so lucky.
They were covered with debris when TNP visited the spot at around 3pm. Twisted bits of metal and broken pieces of plaster were also seen dangling from the ceiling outside the main entrance along the driveway facing Orchard Road.
The incident happened at about 2.50pm.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call about the incident and sent an ambulance and a fire engine to the scene.
Two women, a girl and a man were taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. They were conscious.
SCDF said no one was trapped underneath the debris.
Responding to queries from TNP, Hilton Singapore hotel said the ceiling was made of plasterboard with an aluminium frame.
It also said a doorman had asked guests to move away from the area at around 2.50pm after hearing some strange sounds coming from above. The ceiling gave way soon after.
The hotel said that an adult guest was sent to hospital "as a precautionary measure".
It also said that a female staff member was slightly injured.
A passer-by, Mr Patrick Loh, 64, told TNP he saw a woman, believed to be the Hilton staff member, walking into an ambulance.
The full-time tutor said: "Her jacket was covered in white dust and she seemed to be in a daze.
"Another woman, her colleague, was holding the injured woman's head and helped her to the ambulance. I hope she is fine."
Hilton's regional manager Peter Webster told The Straits Times that heavy rain could have been caused the accident.
In a statement yesterday evening, the hotel said: "Following this isolated incident, guests and staff were promptly evacuated from the area...all our efforts are currently focused on fully cooperating with the local authorities on their current investigation and as such, we are not in the position to comment further."
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said yesterday evening that engineers have inspected the damage and assessed the building structure to be intact and unaffected by the collapse of the false ceiling.
It added: "BCA has also directed the building owner to get (the professional engineer appointed by the building owner) to carry out a further detailed investigation of the incident, check all similar false ceilings at other parts of the driveway, as well as recommend rectification measures and follow up with repair works to the affected areas."
Orchard Road has been hit by several incidents this month.
On Saturday, water seepage due to heavy rain resulted in a power outage in Orchard Central mall.
On Wednesday, a slab of concrete fell from a pedestrian bridge outside Orchard Plaza, narrowly missing two passers-by.
Earlier this month, Christmas decorations, including a Christmas tree, caught fire in two separate incidents along the shopping belt.