Glass panels in front of a fifth-storey infinity pool at a condominium in Whampoa came crashing down yesterday, sending water raining to the ground.
Those who were near the Cradels condominium in Lorong Limau said they heard a loud shattering sound as a number of glass panels fell at about 2.30pm.
Some of the bystanders were taking their lunch at Tian Tai Eating House, less than 100m away. When they looked up, they saw water pouring down the front of the building.
Mr Muhammad Khalid Alimad, 84, a hawker at the coffee shop, said he thought a house had collapsed. "There was someone who looked like he was heading into the condo but when he saw the glass falling and water gushing, he moved away from the entrance. It was quite dangerous," he said.
Mr Lit Wai Yeap, 47, a contractor who works near the condominium, said each panel of glass fell as a whole piece. "The centre of the glass railing fell first and then the water gushed out, which made the rest of the glass panels fall."
Teacher Shuli Sudderudin, 31, who lives in the condominium next door, said she heard a crash, like a "big metal thing falling", while she was at home. When she went out half an hour later, she could hear the sound of "a small waterfall" as water was still pouring down the building.
"Water sprayed everywhere over the road in front. It was quite dramatic. I was standing there and people came rushing out and yelling and telling me not to stand there as another glass panel had shattered," she said.
No injuries were reported, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force, which sent a fire engine down.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said its engineers found that a row of glass panels that acted as a safety barrier for a stretch of maintenance ledge on the outer edge of the swimming pool "had fallen off from the fifth floor". It added that the glass "does not contain the water in the swimming pool".
BCA has given instructions for the entire fifth floor, as well as the affected area below the fallen glass panels, to be closed. A spokesman said that "glass that is used as a safety barrier must be laminated glass and designed to withstand horizontal loading determined in accordance with prescribed standards".
When The Straits Times visited the condominium at 3.15pm, workers were seen clearing the debris from the ground floor. The water had flowed out onto the road in front.
Melrose Land, the developer of the year-old condominium, said that an infinity pool has one or more walls at water level.
The wall holding the water slopes downwards away from the pool, creating a waterfall effect. Water falls into a catch pool, which is a basin that contains a drain. The water is then collected and pumped back into the main pool.
Melrose Land said the glass panels are additional safety barriers outside of the catch pool and not meant to hold water. However, it noted that even if the drain overflows or is choked, there should be a system in place to remove the excess water in the catch pool.
Glass experts said that infinity pools have become more popular in recent years. The accident could have been caused by a design or construction flaw, they said.
Mr Gary Lee, business development manager of Singapore Safety Glass, said the problem could be due to poor glass quality or an inferior pool system.
Residents have been moving into the high-rise development, which has 125 units, since February last year. A resident, who declined to be named, said he was concerned about the structural integrity of the pool. "People who go to an infinity pool would normally want to be at the edge of it to get a good view but it can be dangerous if the glass suddenly gives way," he said. "I don't think I will be using the pool again."