No risk of Tiger Sky Tower gondola plummeting: Operator

Rescued passengers leaving the Tiger Sky Tower after being stranded on the ride for four hours. The Tiger Sky Tower at Sentosa was ascending when the mechanical fault occurred and operations were suspended. That left the gondola stalled in mid-air.
Rescued passengers leaving the Tiger Sky Tower after being stranded on the ride for four hours. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

39 stranded not evacuated as failsafes ensure 'it's totally safe to remain in capsule': Director

The Tiger Sky Tower gondola was never at risk of plummeting, and that was why the ride operator decided against evacuating the 39 people who ended up being stuck for four hours.

Mr Alexander Melchers, the firm's director, said the gondola has failsafes similar to elevators. "We took the decision to not do any evacuation because it was totally safe to remain in the capsule," he added.

The gondola was mechanically winched down in steps, which he said was part of a safety mode in which the gondola descends slowly without rotating.

Mr Melchers also explained why it took nearly two hours before the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was called in. It is the tower's procedure for emergencies to first contact Sentosa's Rangers - the island's emergency response force, he said.

The SCDF was contacted around 7pm.

A woman, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Lee, said her husband and two others she knew were on the ride. They were pacing around nervously before they were finally rescued because they had been stuck "too long".

They and the others had been trapped in an enclosed rotating cabin - also known as a gondola, which ferries passengers to the top - since 5.35pm.


The Tiger Sky Tower at Sentosa was ascending when the mechanical fault occurred and operations were suspended. That left the gondola stalled in mid-air.
PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

It was ascending when the mechanical fault occurred and operations were suspended. That left the gondola stalled in mid-air.

She told The Sunday Times she and her son did not take the ride as the toddler was not feeling well. She kept reassuring him that the passengers would be down soon.

A group of 15 travellers, mostly from Vietnam, were among those trapped in the cabin about 25m above ground, or about eight storeys high.

The tour operator in charge, who declined to be named, said the group will continue with its itinerary, which includes a trip to Malaysia.

"They managed to have a good meal after disembarking from the gondola. They are relieved it's over and all is okay. But I wish the rescue could have been quicker," the operator said.

 

Technicians and rescuers from the SCDF managed to lower the gondola, which is on Sentosa, only at around 9.45pm.

The SCDF had deployed Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Dart) personnel. Resources were also on standby to rescue the passengers from height, although all of them managed to disembark the gondola at ground level eventually.

A crowd had gathered by then, and onlookers and those who were trapped cheered each time the gondola was lowered by a few metres. The passengers were escorted into a holding area after the rescue.

Sentosa Development Corporation said transportation had been arranged for the passengers to their next destination.

The $18 adult and $12 child tickets that passengers paid for were refunded in full. Mr Melchers said the company will do "whatever is needed" to help the tourists with their trips.

In a Facebook post last night, Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam lauded SCDF officers for their work in several high-profile incidents over the past two days.

On Friday night, they rescued a four-year-old girl whose right foot was lodged in an escalator at White Sands mall. And yesterday evening, they responded to a burning car on the Central Expressway before the Havelock Road exit.

"They keep Singapore safe, swing into action when help is needed," he wrote.

VIDEO

Stranded passengers rescued from the Tiger Sky Tower. str.sg/4KXq

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'No risk of gondola plummeting: Operator'. Print Edition | Subscribe