Singapore

Fallen trees damage graves at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery

Strong wind gusts knocked down trees at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery last Friday

About 200 trees fell at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery last Friday after a storm, causing damage to at least 70 graves, according to a statement by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The trees were knocked down by strong wind gusts, which also wrecked several farms in the area.

The Straits Times reported yesterday that farmers whose properties sustained damage in the storm are in a quandary.

They could dig deep into their pockets to pay for repairs of up to $100,000, only to have to leave when their leases are up next year, or let things be and risk hampering day-to-day operations.

ST reported that wind speeds had hit a high of 133.3kmh on Friday and the Meteorological Service Singapore said this was the highest recorded wind gust in eight years.

The NEA said it was alerted to the fallen trees at the cemetery - it is demarcated into plots for Chinese, Muslim and Christian graves - at about 4pm last Friday.

Besides the graves, the perimeter fences around Surau Pusara Aman and the cemetery office were also damaged. No one was injured.

When The New Paper visited the site at 1pm yesterday, dozens of trees were uprooted, with several grave stones smashed.

Most of the damage was centred around the Muslim and Christian cemeteries.

Mr Huseini Hassan, 70, a caretaker, said this was the first time he had witnessed damage on such a scale.

He said: "In my 39 years of being a cemetery caretaker, I have never seen anything like this. Usually, there'd be maybe one or two trees that fall after a storm. This is the first time I have seen so many trees uprooted at once."

The largest uprooted tree was located at Block 1A of the Catholic cemetery. It spanned about six rows of graves and resulted in some candle holders and ceramic cherub statues being smashed to the ground.

Family members who were visiting the graves told TNP they were stunned by the damage caused by the storm.

Mrs Tina Lee, 49, said: "I was shocked when we drove in."

She was visiting the cemetery with her husband and son to pay respects to her mother-in-law, who died in 1999.

The grave was completely covered by an uprooted tree and they had to push away branches and carefully tread around debris.

"There is nothing we can do about it. It was an act of God. We have no choice but to accept it," she said.

Not all the graves were so badly affected, though.

Mrs Jane Gumulya's father died three years ago and his grave was covered by leaves and twigs.

"I was just visiting him for Easter, and I didn't hear anything about it (the storm). I was so surprised to see fallen trees everywhere," she said.

"The wreckage looked really bad. I feel bad for the poor families."

An NEA spokesman said that it is currently in the midst of informing the next-of-kin of the affected graves.

"(This is) so that they can proceed to engage their own contractors for repair works," the spokesman said.

Environment