8-storey tall tree slams into Chinatown condo
'We thought it was an earthquake'
He could have been pierced by branches of a huge fallen tree or hurt by glass shards on Sunday morning.
Thankfully, the teenager's closed window blinds caught most of the glass while he was asleep at 4.30am.
The eight-storey-tall tree fell on Pearl Bank Apartments with a loud crash, shaking the teenager, his family and other residents out of their slumber.
At least six units from the fourth to the sixth storey were damaged by the fallen heritage tree, estimated to be about 68 years old.
No one was hurt, a police spokesman confirmed.
But the building's exterior was marked by scratches, bent window grilles and broken glass.
The teen's family of four live on the sixth storey of the condominium at Chinatown.
PHOTO: SHIN MIN
His mother, who declined to be named, said: "There was a big bang and we thought it was an earthquake. Everyone woke up immediately."
She went to her son's bedroom and saw a large tree lying on the window.
"Luckily, I had closed my son's blinds before I went to bed. (The blinds) ended up catching most of the broken glass," she told The New Paper yesterday.
It also helped that the bed was a distance from the window, thus avoiding any direct impact from the tree branches.
She said: "There were some glass fragments that still ended up on my son. But thankfully, he was okay and it was just a shock.
"Everything happened quickly. I was frightened for all of 30 seconds and then it was over. I saw more glass falling from upstairs."
Two levels above, Mr Joel Yeo, 22, had a similar experience, with parts of the tree crashing through his bedroom window (below).
PHOTO: SHIN MIN
He, too, escaped unscathed because of the blinds which he had shuttered before he went to bed.
Mr Yeo said: "The winds had been very strong that night. When my windows shattered, I woke up thinking that it was a hurricane.
"I thought I was going to die so I rushed to wake my family up in case we needed to evacuate the building."
He soon realised it was the tree that had been standing steadfastly outside his window for the past five years.
His mother, Madam Seow, 48, who is an accountant, recalled: "Even my dog, a border collie, got scared by the noise.
"I had to clean and clean all of yesterday just to get rid of the glass.
"We will continue staying here but it is a real inconvenience as we have to get contractors to repair the damage. The whole process will maybe take more than two months."
Affected residents were told by NParks to take note of the damage and submit claims to them for the repairs, she added.
Other residents also said winds were unusually strong that night and could have been a factor in the incident.
The National Parks Board (NParks) started to remove the tree soon after it fell, completing its operations by yesterday afternoon.
When The New Paper visited the scene yesterday, tree limbs were on the ground. The area was cordoned off by NParks staff.
The tree, a Purple Millettia, had stood on a slope in Pearl's Hill City Park, north of the condo.
It fell away from a path next to it and landed on the building.
If it had fallen at a different angle, it would have hit a service road which is accessible only by condo staff.
According to the NParks website, it was more than 60 years old when assessed in 2008. It is older than the condominium, which was built in 1976.
It is not known when the tree was last checked, but trees under NParks' management are inspected regularly by arborists for defects, instability and disease.
Similar incidents this year
A five-storey-tall tree injured a man when it fell on a bus stop at the junction of Still Road and East Coast Road. He was caught beneath the tree and suffered back injuries.
A tree landed on motorcyclist Lee Kar Choon, 23, at Admiralty Road West, near Woodlands Waterfront Park, while he was on his way to work. Mr Lee was seriously injured.
A tree landed on a car at a carpark near Block 117, Serangoon North Avenue 1. No one was hurt.
A 6m-tall tree fell on an overhead bridge at Braddell Road at night, destroying part of the roof of the sheltered ramp. No one was hurt.
A cabby was stuck in his Comfort taxi after a tree toppled onto the vehicle while it was waiting to make a right turn at the junction of Corporation Road and Boon Lay Drive. The tree also damaged a windshield of a van. The cabby and van driver suffered minor injuries and declined to be taken to the hospital.