Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Downtown Line accident: Two men buried alive by cement

SINGAPORE - Work constructing an underground linkway between the new Downtown Line (DTL) and the current East-West Line at Bugis MRT Station started as usual early this morning.

10 workers were working on the casting of permanent roof slab between the new and old sections of Bugis MRT station. Eight were on top of the scaffolding supporting the formwork, while two others were working below.

Then, at 6.50am, the scaffolding 4m below the surface collapsed while workers were pouring concrete into the formwork.

Eight workers were injured and sent to Raffles Hospital, and two were missing. At 9.50am, LTA said that the two workers were still unaccounted for.

Over 50 SCDF rescuers and police officers arrived at the accident site with LTA employees, construction workers and two search dogs.

Collapsed bars and planks from the scaffolding covered the underground structure like a web. Rescue workers made their way through the 30m by 5m, and 15m-deep site by cutting metal bars with a blow torch.

At around 10.40am, a body was spotted trapped under fallen scaffolding and submerged in wet cement. It took workers an hour to extract the body. At noon, the death of one worker was confirmed.

Workers from the Public Utilities Board were also seen checking sewage pipes near the site, while police officers were spotted carrying a body tent, which is usually deployed in cases where deaths occurred.

SCDF officers pumped water in the area to keep the cement wet. It was a race against time to find the other missing worker.

At 12.15pm, LTA assured that the DTL Bugis station structure is "substantially complete" and "structurally sound". As a safety measure, LTA engineers are checking similar scaffolding structures at all its worksites.

At 12.53pm, the body of the second worker was found fully submerged in wet cement, and pinned down by wooden planks and scaffolding. It was discovered 1m from the location of the first body.

Unfortunately, the second missing worker also died in the accident. Both deceased workers were from the People's Republic of China. 

Raffles Hospital said at 2.15pm that five of the eight workers have been discharged. Three patients were admitted for treatment of injuries in the chest, finger and back.  

At 1pm, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) says that all work will be ceased on-site, and investigations are currently on-going.

At 2.40pm, Building and Construction Authority revoked the construction permit for the Downtown Line Bugis station linkway site while further investigations are ongoing.

LTA says that all other workers of their contractor have been accounted for. They added that they will cooperate with MOM in the investigation into the cause of the accident, and exercise extra vigilance to prevent a similar occurance.

Similar scaffoldings structures at other DTL worksites have been checked and confirmed to be safe, says LTA. The incident is localised and poses no risk to surrounding developments and the public.

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