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Two trees fall in Sembawang Park where SMRT staff were having Christmas party, 14 taken to hospital

SINGAPORE — A tree fell on a pavilion at Sembawang Park, where 17 SMRT employees were having a private Christmas party, amid heavy rain on Thursday (Dec 20).

Two trees fall in Sembawang Park where SMRT staff were having Christmas party, 14 taken to hospital

Roots of the fallen tree seen next to what is left of the shelter that it fell on. The tree at Sembawang Park fell during heavy rains, injuring 14 people.

SINGAPORE — Two trees fell at Sembawang Park amid heavy rain on Thursday (Dec 20). One of the trees fell on a pavilion, causing the roof to crash on a private Christmas party involving 17 SMRT employees.

And while nobody was trapped, 14 people who suffered injuries had to be taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The incident took place at about 5.30pm along Beaulieu Road, which is near a playground in the park, which borders the sea.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said two trees were uprooted during the incident — an 18m tall Tabebuia rosea and a 21m tall Erythrophleum suaveolens.

It was the latter that fell on the pavilion.

When TODAY visited the scene, workers were observed cutting up the trees and trying to clear the area amid a drizzle.

Fallen tree at Sembawang Park being cut down after falling down in heavy rains, injuring 14 people, Dec 20. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

At a nearby sheltered walkway, where remains of the party were taken, there were unwrapped presents that appeared damaged, a partially smashed chocolate log cake and an unwrapped bundle of ham.

Clumps of tissues and used bandages stained with blood were also strewn about.

What is left of the shelter at Sembawang Park after a tree fell on it during heavy rains, injuring 14 people, Dec 20. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

The three SMRT staff who were not sent to hospital were seated at the park, still emotional from what had happened to 14 of their colleagues.  

One of them, a woman, was contemplating if she should head to the hospital at about 9.30pm. She appeared shaken.

A man in his 40s who only wanted to be known as Mr Lee said his wife fainted and suffered a head injury from the incident.

His wife’s head now has a bump “as big as a fist”, he said, adding that some of his wife’s colleagues had to get stitches, while another had a dislocated arm. 

Angry with NParks over the accident, Mr Lee told TODAY: “I don’t understand how the tree can fall. Based on the photo I see the roots are not deep enough! I need an answer for that. My wife is injured now. I don’t feel good.

“Something is wrong with their maintenance. The tree is so old and so big, but they had to wait till the wind and rain hit before doing anything about it. This is a park, where children and family are supposed to feel safe in!”

Roots of the fallen tree seen next to what is left of the shelter that it fell on. The tree at Sembawang Park fell during heavy rains, injuring 14 people, Dec 20. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

Mr Lee noted that the weather was sunny earlier in the day, and the colleagues had planned to play a few games and conduct a gift exchange.

An NParks officer was later seen speaking to him.

The woman who appeared shaken told this reporter she was not ready to speak to the media.

An SMRT van was seen at the Sembawang Park.

NParks said that at the time of the incident, there were intense thunderstorms with gusty winds in the northern part of the island.

The board said it is investigating the cause of the tree fall and is in the midst of getting in touch with the victims and their families.

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