Scare at driveway of Hilton hotel

A black Volvo and a white Prime Royal taxi were caught under the roof of Hilton Singapore's driveway when it collapsed at close to 3pm yesterday. Four people were taken to hospital. Hilton regional general manager Peter Webster theorised that the pro
A black Volvo and a white Prime Royal taxi were caught under the roof of Hilton Singapore's driveway when it collapsed at close to 3pm yesterday. Four people were taken to hospital. Hilton regional general manager Peter Webster theorised that the probable cause of the accident was the heavy rain.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Plasterboard, frame fall on two vehicles; families inside are shaken but unharmed

Two families on holiday were caught by surprise when the ceiling of the driveway at Hilton Singapore fell on the vehicles they were in yesterday afternoon.

A black Volvo and white Prime Royal taxi were caught under the roof when it caved in at close to 3pm, resulting in four people being taken to hospital.

The families inside the two vehicles were shaken but unharmed by the collapse.

The driver of the Volvo, a Malaysian man who declined to be named, said he was about to depart the Orchard Road hotel with his wife and five-month-old son.

The self-employed man had been checking a location on his phone when the ceiling, , which is made of plasterboard with an aluminium frame, suddenly came down on his car.

"It happened so fast, in 10 seconds," he told The Straits Times. "I grabbed my baby and ran out, and called to my wife to get to safety."

Cab driver Ong Wee Hian, 60, said he had been helping his passengers, an Indonesian family of four, unload their luggage.

He said: "I was closing the boot when the ceiling cracked a little bit. Then, all of a sudden, the whole thing dropped. Luckily, my passengers were not underneath."

The family, including two children, were "stunned" but fine, according to Mr Ong. Their luggage, however, was crushed by the debris and could be retrieved only at about 5.30pm.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said four people - a man, two women and a child - were conveyed in a conscious condition to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Hilton regional general manager Peter Webster said a doorman heard "strange sounds coming from above" at around 2.50pm, and started asking guests to move away.

Shortly afterwards, the ceiling collapsed slowly, he said.

Mr Webster said that, to his knowledge, two people - a passer-by and a Hilton employee - were taken to hospital for "shock and minor bumps". He theorised that the probable cause of the accident was the heavy rain, adding that the wreckage "looks a lot worse than it is" and that Hilton would cover the cost of any damage to both vehicles.

A Building and Construction Authority (BCA) spokesman said its engineers, alongside a professional engineer appointed by the building owner, have "inspected the damage and assessed that the building structure is intact and is not affected by the collapse of the false ceiling".

The BCA also directed the building owner to get the professional engineer to carry out a further detailed investigation of the incident.

The roof collapse at Hilton is the latest in a spate of incidents that have hit Orchard Road, including a blackout in Orchard Central mall on Saturday.

• Additional reporting by Chew Hui Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2015, with the headline 'Scare at driveway of Hilton hotel'. Print Edition | Subscribe