A large crane has been brought into the worksite where an excavator toppled this morning, killing the machine operator.
At least 10 officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force are at the scene to try and retrieve the body.
An SCDF spokesman confirmed that the excavator operator, believed to be a Singaporean Chinese in his 50s, is dead.
SCDF officers had asked the site contractor to bring in a large crane to help stabilise the area, and the crane was sent in at about 12.30pm.
The accident happened at about 8am, with the SCDF receiving a call for help at 8.42am.
An on-site safety supervisor was believed to be at another end of the worksite when the accident happened.
The site, opposite Novena Church, used to house a row of shops including the famous Wee Nam Kee Hainanese chicken rice eatery and a Penang food restaurant, as well as apartments.
It is being developed by the Fragrance Group into a four-storey residential cum commercial development called Novena Regency.
It has not been confirmed how the excavator, which was carrying out demolition works, toppled suddenly to its left before being submerged under debris.
Ms Merian Inboc, 34, who lives in a bungalow opposite the worksite, told The Straits Times she heard a loud bang earlier in the morning but was unaware that an accident had occurred.