14 injured after tree falls on Christmas party revellers at Sembawang Park
They were in a shelter during heavy rain at Sembawang Park when 21m-tall tree crashed through the roof
A Christmas party at Sembawang Park almost turned into a tragedy when a tree fell on a shelter during heavy rain yesterday evening.
The shelter then collapsed on the 17 people inside, injuring most of them.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, though some had to be rescued from the wreckage by their friends.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it was alerted to the incident at Beaulieu Road, Sembawang Park, at 5.55pm yesterday.
There were no trapped casualties when its officers arrived, and 14 people were taken by ambulance to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, SCDF said.
The New Paper understands that the Christmas gathering involved a group of colleagues from SMRT.
Ms Carine Yeo, a 44-year-old supervisor, said: "We were having a good time when suddenly there was a very loud sound and the tree hit the roof, which crashed down on us.
"Three to four of my colleagues were pinned under wooden planks. Many had cuts on their heads and were bleeding. It was still raining heavily and it was so chaotic."
Ms Yeo said those who were unhurt helped the injured out of the collapsed shelter to a another shelter nearby. One of them had to be carried.
The group had chosen the park for the party after work as it was close to their office, she told TNP at the nearby shelter, which was strewn with belongings and Christmas presents.
When they arrived at about 4pm, it was still hot and sunny.
"Around 5pm, the rain came out of nowhere. I'm still in shock. A plank hit my back and I'm in pain," said Ms Yeo, who decided not to go to the hospital.
When TNP reached the scene at around 7.30pm, contractors were cutting up the tree.
Mr Logan Raju, 38, who was one of two people late for the party, said he was at the carpark when a colleague called him about the incident.
"I thought it was a prank and he wanted to punish me for being late. When I realised it was true, I ran to the scene in the rain," Mr Raju said.
He saw several bleeding colleagues sitting in the shelter nearby.
"To see a scene like that... I had the shock of my life. We were supposed to be having a good time," he said.
He said National Parks Board (NParks) officers arrived an hour after the incident and spoke to some of his colleagues.
Mr Lim Hock Lye, 64, the owner of Beaulieu House, a seafood restaurant in the park, said he saw police cars and ambulances in the area at around 6pm. He said it was not uncommon for trees and branches to fall in the area.
"A large tree fell in the park a few years back. It was storming just now, and several big branches fell around the park due to the rain."
NParks group director of parks Chuah Hock Seong said two trees were uprooted yesterday.
The one that fell on the shelter was a 21m-tall ordeal tree with a girth of 3.1m. The other was an 18m-tall trumpet tree with 3.6m girth.
"At the time of the incident, there were intense thunderstorms with gusty winds in the northern part of the island," Mr Chuah said.
"We are investigating the cause of the incident. We understand that all the injured persons are in stable condition and we are in the midst of getting in touch with them and their families."