SINGAPORE - A 57-year-old man drowned after he allegedly tried to wash his hands at the Kallang River on Saturday (Feb 4) afternoon.
The incident sparked a nearly two-hour search by authorities.
The victim, Mr Suhaimi Abu Bakar, had been spotted near the river at Block 14, Upper Boon Keng Road at around 2.30pm.
An eyewitness, Mr Liu, who was fishing nearby, told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that he had seen Mr Suhaimi take some newspapers from a rubbish bin.
"I was not sure if he wanted the newspaper so he could spread it on the floor to sit down, or to read it," said the 33-year-old Mr Liu, who works in a glass factory.
Mr Liu claimed that the newspapers, however, had been smeared with droppings, which caused Mr Suhaimi to dirty his hands. The latter then climbed over the railings and was seen attempting to wash his hands in the river.
"Ten minutes later, I heard a 'plop' sound and when I turned around, he (Mr Suhaimi) was nowhere to be seen. I ran over but the water was murky and I could not see much," Mr Liu said.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to a rescue incident at around 2.45pm.
It conducted surface search operations and deployed two pairs of divers, who recovered Mr Suhaimi's body from the river at around 4.30pm.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Mr Suhaimi's close friend, 61-year-old Mr Kamrudin, told Wanbao they had arranged to meet for one of their regular chats in the area, which they had fond memories of as they grew up there.
"At the time of the incident, I had left him alone for awhile to buy drinks. By the time I returned, there were lots of police officers and I found out he had fallen into the river," said Mr Kamrudin.
SCDF also dispatched a fire engine, two fire bikes, a Red Rhino, an ambulance and a support vehicle to the scene.
A police spokesman said investigations into the unnatural death are ongoing.