Visitors resume park activities a day after tragedy

Security personnel informing visitors to the Gardens yesterday that Upper Palm Valley Road was closed as workers were still clearing the 40m-tall heritage tree that fell last Saturday.
Security personnel informing visitors to the Gardens yesterday that Upper Palm Valley Road was closed as workers were still clearing the 40m-tall heritage tree that fell last Saturday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Visitors to the Botanic Gardens yesterday morning went about their usual activities, a day after a 40m-tall tembusu tree crashed onto unsuspecting visitors, leaving one woman dead and four injured.

It was a stark contrast to the scene of panic last Saturday afternoon, when visitors scrambled after the tree fell and many rushed to help the injured.

When The Straits Times visited early yesterday morning, many visitors, including curious tourists, took photos of the fallen heritage tree around the incident site, which remained cordoned off.

Some were walking their dogs, while others took their morning strolls. A few took time to have a picnic and enjoy the scenery.

Workers were still trying to remove the fallen tree, which had hit the ground, bringing down nearby palm trees. The site of the crash is at least 50m away from the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage.

Visitors to the park yesterday were surprised that such a huge tree, which was more than 270 years old, could fall to the ground.

 
 
 

Marketing manager Daniel Yeo, 40, who was taking a morning stroll with his wife, said: "It is shocking that a large tree with deep roots could fall."

He added that they will still visit the park regularly. "We will be careful to avoid the unsafe areas... More regular checks have to be done because there are many families with young kids who come here often," he told The Straits Times.

The tembusu tree predates the establishment of the Botanic Gardens, which was founded in 1859 and became Singapore's first World Heritage Site in 2015.

The National Parks Board, which manages the place, said it is investigating the incident.

Mr Julien Tan, 42, who is self-employed, was there with his family for a picnic yesterday. He said the accident looked quite serious.

"I hope those injured will recover from this incident, especially the two young kids who have lost their mother. It is also a reminder to us all that life is fragile," he added.

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2017, with the headline 'Visitors resume park activities a day after tragedy'. Print Edition | Subscribe