Bumboat on Singapore River catches fire; man missing

Massive plumes of smoke rising from the burning boat yesterday evening as people gathered on the walkway near the Esplanade. SCDF personnel (right) put out the fire using two water jets from the riverbank.
Massive plumes of smoke rising from the burning boat yesterday evening as people gathered on the walkway near the Esplanade (above). PHOTOS: COURTESY OF LUKE, MARK CHEONG
Massive plumes of smoke rising from the burning boat yesterday evening as people gathered on the walkway near the Esplanade. SCDF personnel (right) put out the fire using two water jets from the riverbank.
SCDF personnel (above) put out the fire using two water jets from the riverbank.PHOTOS: COURTESY OF LUKE, MARK CHEONG

A bumboat caught fire on the Singapore River yesterday, and a man seen jumping off the burning boat was still missing at press time.

Search and rescue efforts continued into the wee hours of the morning.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call about the boat at about 6.30pm. The fire was put out using two water jets from the riverbank.

The SCDF disaster assistance and rescue team (Dart) began a search for a person who was reported missing. It is believed that the man, said to be in his 30s, was the boatman, and the only person on the boat at the time. No other missing persons or injuries were reported.

In eyewitness videos posted on Facebook, massive plumes of smoke could be seen rising from the boat as a crowd gathered on the walkway near the Esplanade.

An 18-year-old information technology student, who wanted to be known only as Luke, said he saw a middle-aged man clad in yellow jump into the water from the back of the boat. He also heard three to four "soft blasts".

When The Straits Times arrived at the scene at about 9pm, about seven or eight rescue boats were seen combing the area.

The burnt bumboat was moored close to the riverbank, while distraught family members waited anxiously behind a cordoned-off area.

The SCDF said its search methods involved "point diving" at a depth of about 4m. The search team, which was moving in a grid formation, was employing a circular search pattern, starting from where the man was last seen.

"Besides the challenge of poor underwater visibility at night, the Dart rescuers also have to... search through the deep silt of the river bed," it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'Bumboat on S'pore River catches fire; man missing'. Print Edition | Subscribe