Batam bridge collapse caused by overcrowding, not decay of foundations: Montigo Resorts Nongsa

A photo provided by Montigo Resorts shows that the legs and foundation of the bridge were still intact, even after the incident. PHOTO: MONTIGO RESORTS

SINGAPORE - The collapse of a bridge in a 4.5-star hotel in Batam on Thursday (Nov 7), which resulted in 26 Singaporeans being injured, was caused by too many people standing in a "concentrated area" of the bridge, said the hotel on Friday.

It also disputed earlier reports citing the Riau Islands provincial police spokesman as saying that the bridge likely collapsed due to its foundations decaying.

"Findings from the preliminary investigation show that unlike previously reported, the legs and foundation remain intact," said Montigo Resorts Nongsa, the hotel where the incident happened.

The resort provided photos showing that the legs and foundation of the bridge were still intact, even after the incident.

Montigo Resorts added that the bridge, which is 3m above sea level, was serviced this year and undergoes checks regularly. The bridge was built in 2012.

A group of about 100 employees from community self-help group Mendaki were at the Batam hotel for a retreat to discuss Mendaki's work plans for next year when the bridge collapsed. Of these, 30 were taking a group photo on the bridge when the incident happened, resulting in 26 of them falling into a shallow part of the sea.

The 26 who were injured were taken to a hospital by the resort immediately, Montigo Resorts said.

Among them, two will require further medical assistance in Singapore, with one suffering an ankle fracture and the other, a rib fracture.

The other 24 Mendaki staff members suffered only light injuries and were treated as outpatients. Two of these employees later decided to go to hospital for further checks when they returned to Singapore.

Montigo Resorts said the bridge was serviced this year and undergoes checks regularly. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/MONTIGO RESORTS

In its statement, Montigo Resorts said it was "deeply regretful" over the matter, and that it takes the incident very seriously.

"More checks and a full investigation are ongoing at the moment. In the meantime, warning signs have been placed near the accident zone," it said.

"We are cooperating with the local authorities and the police, and apologise for any inconvenience caused."

A full repair will also be done to ensure that the bridge is robust for future guests, it added.

Montigo Resorts said that the bridge collapsed because the number of people on the bridge, 30, was over its capacity. It said the bridge was meant for transient passage.

"The original plan for the group was to take the sand park, not on the bridge," said Ms Leny Suparman, group chief executive of KOP Limited, at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal where the Mendaki employees arrived from Batam. KOP owns Montigo Resorts.

While she could not say what the exact capacity limit for the bridge was, she said having 30 people at one point of the structure could have been too much for it. The bridge leads to a jetty.

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"Of course, we encourage people to go to the jetty - it's very beautiful - but it's something that we are looking further into, to ensure that it is even more sturdy," she said, adding that the resort changed the bridge's materials with new wood in the last few months.

The group of Mendaki staff that were at the Batam resort returned to Singapore on Friday.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said in a Facebook post on Friday that he was concerned about the 26 Mendaki staff involved in the accident.

"I wish them a speedy recovery. Mendaki will render all the necessary assistance and support to their staff," said Mr Masagos, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

An injured person on a stretcher being wheeled into an ambulance at Tanah Merah ferry terminal, on Nov 8, 2019. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Mendaki chief executive officer Rahayu Buang said that the welfare of its employees remains Mendaki's top priority.

"This is indeed an unfortunate incident. The employees were on the bridge preparing for a group photo when the incident took place," said Madam Rahayu. "Two employees will seek further medical care in Singapore and I will be accompanying them to the hospital."

A man in a wheelchair being taken to an ambulance at Tanah Merah ferry terminal, on Nov 8, 2019. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

A Mendaki spokesman said that, in line with its human resource policy, "we will do all our best to make sure (the affected staff) get the best treatment...(and) that the well-being of all staff, whether injured or not, is secured".

The spokesman also thanked Montigo Resorts for its prompt emergency response and support.

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