Falling tree crashes into balcony, injuring boy

Sheik Sheqal Muhd Fazel, 11, was getting a drink from a fridge on the balcony when the tree crashed through the glass window towards him. He was later taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for outpatient checks.
Sheik Sheqal Muhd Fazel, 11, was getting a drink from a fridge on the balcony when the tree crashed through the glass window towards him. He was later taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for outpatient checks.ST PHOTO: YEO KAI WEN

11-year-old in Pasir Ris second-floor flat hit on head by branch; 2 units above also damaged

Eleven-year-old Sheik Sheqal Muhd Fazel was getting a drink from the fridge on the balcony of his grandparents' flat on Sunday when he heard someone yell.

He turned around to see a tree crash through the glass window towards him. A branch struck the top of his head.

"I was shocked," Sheqal told The Straits Times yesterday in the second-floor unit of Block 243 in Pasir Ris Street 21, where his grandparents and uncle live.

The Primary 5 student was there on Sunday for a regular weekend visit. Around 6pm, after a heavy afternoon downpour, the 10-storey tree toppled, smashing the windows of three units in the block.

Residents said window grilles were also bent out of shape and red ants from the trees swarmed into their flats.

Sheqal was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for outpatient checks on Sunday.

While he has no visible wounds, Sheqal said his head was still "a little painful". Doctors have advised his family to monitor him.

His aunt, Madam Nurul Nadiah Mohamed Aris, 26, a childcare teacher, said: "We heard a loud crash. We were so scared, we thought it was an earthquake."

Though it had been stormy on Sunday, the weather was calm when the Khaya tree, which horticulturists said was healthy, fell.

The species belonging to the Mahogany family typically has a heavy crown and shallow roots.

The tree, which was more than 20 years old, also crashed into the flats directly above the unit belonging to Sheqal's grandparents on the third and fourth floors. No one there was injured.

Insurance executive Faridah T. Sahib, 45, who lives in a third-floor flat, was out with her husband getting groceries when it happened. Three of her four schoolgoing children were at home.

Workers for the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council helped to clean up the debris inside the affected units and killed the red ants. Yesterday, huge roots remained in the grass verge where the tree once stood. Workers were seen loading tree parts onto a truck and sweeping up leaves and broken glass.

Mr Zainal Sapari, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said the town council will be making insurance claims to pay for the residents' replacement windows.

The tree was healthy and showed no signs of rotting, said Mr Zainal, the immediate past chairman of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council. "The council's horticulture officers said it most probably fell because of heavy rainfall and strong winds."

Mr Zainal said some residents had noticed earlier that the crown of the tree was "lopsided" due to trimming. While there were calls to remove the tree, these were because of the insects living on it, not because residents thought the tree posed any danger, he said.

Mr Zainal said the town council is now looking at removing trees of a similar type and size in the area as a safety measure. He said: "I prefer to err on the side of caution."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Falling tree crashes into balcony, injuring boy'. Print Edition | Subscribe