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Concrete sunshade on exterior of Tampines HDB block gives way

SINGAPORE — Mr Choo Keat Thin, 59, was watching television yesterday when he heard a loud sound outside his living room windows on the fourth storey.

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SINGAPORE — Mr Choo Keat Thin, 59, was watching television yesterday when he heard a loud sound outside his living room windows on the fourth storey.

The concrete sunshade, or sun breaker, on the building exterior above the windows of his flat had become dislodged on one side and was resting on the sunshade on the third storey.

“It was 10.05am, and the whole floor shook. I quickly looked out, and I saw the beam dangling (at a) 45-degree (angle),” said the businessman, who lives in Block 201E Tampines Street 23.

“I was afraid that it could kill someone or have a cascading effect, so I called the police immediately.”

The police arrived at 10.20am and the vicinity was cordoned off. In the evening, the Building and Construction Authority and the Housing and Development Board said inspections showed that the housing block itself remained structurally safe.

The dislodged structure is part of the building’s architectural facade and is “non-structural in nature”, and thus, would not affect the building’s structural integrity, the HDB said.

There were also no injuries, said the agency, which was notified of the incident at about 10.40am. Its engineers are investigating the cause of the incident.

Separately, the BCA has directed Tampines Town Council “to engage a professional engineer to advise on the necessary measures to remove the dislodged sunshade, carry out a detailed investigation and recommend permanent rectification works”.

As an added precaution, however, the engineer is required to inspect all other HDB blocks in the area with a similar architectural facade.

Tampines Town Council chairman Baey Yam Keng told TODAY that there were two such blocks, including the affected block, in the immediate vicinity.

Housewife Noraishah Rashid, 31, who lives next to Mr Choo, said her elderly parents and four-year-old son ran out of their flat after they heard a loud “bang” and felt the floor shake.

“I’m worried because that (sunshade) is right beside my bedroom. I wonder if it’s safe,” said the 31-year-old. “Nobody came to talk to us, not even the town council or the HDB. So we’re wondering what’s going to happen next.”

At about 4.50pm, a crane removed the dislodged sunshade which, until then, had been secured to the rooftop by town council staff using tension cords.

Speaking to reporters at the incident site, Member of Parliament (Tampines) Cheng Li Hui said professionals had felt that it “may not be safe” to also remove the sunshade on the third storey immediately.

“So we’ll be building a proper platform, and we’ll be looking at removing it over the next week,” she added.

As the area was cordoned off, nine of the 11 shops under the block closed their businesses for the day.

A shop assistant who declined to be named and was working in one of the shops that remained open, said in Mandarin: “I heard something very loud ... and a short while later, the place was cordoned off.” Business was affected, he added. At about 6pm, one of the shops reopened for business after closing at noon.

“After I heard a loud bang, I went outside to have a look, then I told my boss,” shop assistant Toh Limin, 29, said. “My boss then told me to close the shop, but since it’s not cordoned off now, we (can) open again.”

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