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Fallen Tembusu tree at Botanic Gardens kills 1, injures 4

SINGAPORE — A 38-year-old woman from India was killed and four others injured when a 40m tall Tembusu tree collapsed in the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Saturday afternoon (Feb 11), shortly before the start of a concert and movie screening.

Fallen Tembusu tree at Botanic Gardens kills 1, injures 4

Authorities investigate a fallen Tembusu tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Feb 12, 2017. Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY

SINGAPORE — A 38-year-old woman from India was killed and four others injured when a 40m tall Tembusu tree collapsed in the Singapore Botanic Gardens on Saturday afternoon (Feb 11), shortly before the start of a concert and movie screening.

The deceased's husband, a 39-year-old French national, and their two children, both aged one, were among the injured. A 26-year-old Singaporean woman was also hurt during the incident, the police said.

The tree, which had a 6.5m girth, was uprooted at 4.25pm at the edge of the Palm Valley in the Botanic Gardens, near the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, the Nationals Parks Board (NParks) said in a statement.

"We are investigating the cause of the tree fall. Our priority now is to accord assistance to the families of the deceased and the injured," said Mr Kenneth Er, chief executive officer of NParks.

According to NParks, the tree that fell was more than 270 years old and predated the establishment of the Gardens. It was last inspected in September last year and was found to be healthy.

"As an SBG Heritage tree, it was inspected twice a year, which is of a higher frequency than other trees in the Gardens," said Mr Er. "The tree was also protected by a lightning conductor and fenced off to prevent compaction of its root zone by visitors. Leaf litter is routinely applied to the root zone to encourage healthy root growth."

The fallen Tembusu tree brought down several surrounding palm trees during the incident. The injured were taken to the National University Hospital on Saturday. The extent of their injurires are unclear. 

In a Facebook post, the High Commission of Canada in Singapore expressed sympathy for the friends and families of the injured, adding: "We are sincerely grateful to those who came so quickly to the aid of those injured."

The High Commission had organised the event to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday through music and film. It was due to start at 5pm.

An eyewitness video posted on social media showed park goers rushing to the aid of what appeared to be victims trapped by the fallen tree. The SCDF said it sent two fire engines, one Red Rhino, one Fire Bike, four ambulances and two support vehicles to the scene.

Following the incident, the Singapore Botanic Gardens announced that all programmes scheduled at the park on Sunday have been cancelled. Events scheduled in the park on Sunday include a Valentines' Day musical performance at the Bandstand.

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Singapore Botanic Gardens Tembusu tree death

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