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1 dead, 10 injured after collapse of uncompleted TPE-PIE viaduct near airport

SINGAPORE — Part of a highway structure under construction at Upper Changi Road East collapsed early Friday (July 14) morning, killing a 31-year-old worker from China and injuring 10 others.

1 dead, 10 injured after collapse of uncompleted TPE-PIE viaduct near airport

Photo: SCDF/Facebook

SINGAPORE — Part of a highway structure under construction at Upper Changi Road East collapsed early Friday (July 14) morning, killing a 31-year-old worker from China and injuring 10 others.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said in a statement that it had revoked the permit for construction works at the site, where a new road viaduct from the Tampines Expressway to the Pan Island Expressway (Westbound) is being constructed.

"The affected area has been cordoned off. As a safety precaution, the adjacent girders will be propped and supported," BCA added. "Nevertheless, we noted that the rest of the constructed viaducts are not above any public roads and will not pose a risk to the public."

(Location of the accident site. Click to enlarge. Graphic: Kenneth Choy/TODAY)

BCA said "a support structure (girder) and platform (deck slab) for one portion of the viaduct collapsed during concreting works."

In an earlier statement, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said preliminary investigations showed that "corbels supporting the pre-cast beams had given way". Corbels are structural elements jutting from a wall to help support heavy items.

According to the LTA, the contractor, Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors, was "carrying out works to cast the decking" for the new viaduct when a section between two piers collapsed.

The LTA also ordered a "safety timeout" for all road and rail construction sites to review their safety measures and processes while further investigations with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) got underway.

In an update at about 7pm on Friday, LTA said it had completed the half-day safety reviews but gave no details as to whether any potential issues were uncovered. Work at other LTA work sites resumed at 1pm on Friday, it added. 

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(Video, photos by Victor Loh/TODAY)

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said they were alerted to the incident shortly after it happened at 3.30am.

About 60 SCDF officers, including members from the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART), as well as SCDF K9 dogs, conducted a three-hour search and rescue operation at the worksite.

Eleven workers, from China, India, and Bangladesh, were working on top of the structure during the accident. The worker who was killed is Chinese national Chen Yinchuan. The others were taken to Changi General Hospital (CGH) with injuries. 

A hospital spokesperson said seven of the injured workers had to be admitted, while three others were discharged after receiving treatment. Two of the seven workers warded at CGH are receiving intensive care, the spokesperson added.

(click to enlarge)

The injured workers are employees of OKP's subcontractors Tongda Construction & Engineering and Transit-Mixed Concrete.

Transit-Mixed's operations supervisor Jason Low confirmed with TODAY that the injured Indian national is a pump operator with his company.

The main contractor for the project, OKP Contractors, had earlier in the week been convicted and fined for separate workplace safety lapses and the death of a worker in 2015.

On Tuesday, the company and its safety coordinator and site supervisor Victor Tan Kok Peng were fined S$250,000 and S$12,000 respectively for a workplace accident on Sept 22, 2015.

Four workers fell 6.4m to the ground when the section of the working platform they were standing on under Yio Chu Kang Flyover dislodged. One worker died and the remaining three suffered fractures and contusions. 

(Click to enlarge: A map showing the road diversion due to the construction work on the viaduct)

Following Friday's accident, the LTA said it was looking into whether there were any lapses or gaps that required urgent attention, adding: "LTA has directed the professional engineers who were responsible for the project to carry out detailed investigations into the design and construction quality of the affected structure.

"LTA engineers, contractors and personnel are on site working with SCDF and Police to manage the situation."

(click to enlarge: LTA's official statement regarding the accident)

Eyewitnesses near the scene said they heard a loud bang, followed by what sounded like metal being dragged across the ground. They also saw white smoke and smelled burnt rubber, but did not know why.

Mr Tan Gek Guang and his family were keeping watch at their grandmother’s wake at Block 346 Tampines Street 33 when their peaceful vigil was interrupted by the noise from the accident.

The 36-year-old teacher told TODAY: “We heard a loud crash at around 3-plus in the morning. Initially, we thought it was a lorry accident, it was only after we (saw) the news that we realised what had happened.” 

A sign listing the official details of the construction project listed CPG Consultants as the professional engineer for the project, and Or Kim Peow Contractors as the builder.

The project was expected to be completed on Nov 22, 2019.

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