Parts of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve temporarily closed after man and 2-year-old daughter fell into hole in bridge

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SINGAPORE: Parts of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve are being temporarily closed after an incident in which a man and his two-year-old daughter fell into a hole in a bridge during heavy rain.

Responding to TSTIME questions, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Jan. 25) that it was aware of the incident that affected a family on Monday.

“The area was cordoned off after the incident and the hole has been closed off after the water receded,” said Lim Liang Jim, group director of NParks.

“We are currently closely monitoring water levels in the reserve and will temporarily close off areas that may be subject to intermittent flooding.”

THE INCIDENT

The incident was described in an Instagram post by Bucky Hussain, who described what happened to him and his family on Monday, the second day of the Chinese New Year holiday.

It was between 11am and 12pm that Mr Hussain’s family – consisting of himself, his wife and two children – rushed to leave the nature park due to torrential rain.

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While crossing a bridge covered in “a good 3 to 5 cm of water”, Mr Hussain said he and his two-year-old daughter, Ashley, fell “into a huge hole”, and into water that was “dark and dark ” had become. muddy”.

He immediately put his arms around his daughter to “prevent her from floating away”, Mr Hussain said he “couldn’t feel the buttocks” and that if he had let go they would be “sucked under the bridge”.

Both he and his daughter managed to get back onto the bridge, and he described in the post that they were “seconds away from drowning.”

The hole, he said, was a “literal death trap” and it would have been much worse if a child or elderly person had fallen into it.

“NO SIGN UP”

Mr Hussain wrote that there was nothing – “no signage, no barriers” – to indicate the bridge had been damaged and because the water was dark and muddy there was no way to “distinguish the hole from the remaining planks from which the bridge exists”.

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Mr. Hussain and his family saw the danger posed by the hole and stayed behind for a few minutes to warn others. Together with passersby who had helped them earlier, they tried to close the gap with some planks they found, he said.

Wanting to inform NParks of the incident, Mr Hussain and his family made their way to the visitor center, where there were no staff, he said. After waiting for “a long time”, his wife dialed 995 and was referred to the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF).

However, SCDF’s response to the call left him “in shock”. He said the operator had told him that if he didn’t need an ambulance he should “report it to the appropriate agency”.

In a comment in Wednesday’s post, Mr Hussain said SCDF had reached out and apologized for the operator’s handling of the incident.

SCDF said it is investigating the matter, in response to questions from TSTIME.

ANSWER FROM NPARKS

In its media statement on Wednesday, NParks said the incident had occurred at a floodgate crossing. “The water had overflowed during the peak spring tide coupled with heavy rains that loosened the floor panels, revealing a hole,” said Mr Lim of NParks.

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Mr. Hussian praised NParks, telling TSTIME that the agency’s response “so far has been as good as hoped”. He said an NParks director had “reached out officially and personally” and “committed to make a number of improvements, not the least of which is to close the gap almost immediately afterwards”.

Mr Lim also said in Wednesday’s statement that NParks had spoken to the family and thanked them for helping to inform other park visitors about the gap and informing staff of the situation to rectify it.

“For their safety, members of the public should take cover at the nearest available shelter and avoid entering wildlife sanctuaries and forested areas, including the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, during and immediately after bad weather,” he added.

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