SINGAPORE - An 11-year-old boy was taken to the hospital on Sunday (Aug 30) after he was hit by a tree that uprooted and fell .
The incident took place around 6pm at Block 243 in Pasir Ris Street 21. The tree, which residents said was about 10 storeys tall, smashed and damaged the windows of three units in the block.
A spokesman for the Singapore Civil Defence Force dispatched one fire engine, one red rhino and an ambulance to the scene.
Eleven-year-old Sheik Sheqal Muhd Fazel was getting a drink from a fridge on the balcony of his grandmother's second-floor flat when he heard someone from outside yell.
"When I looked behind me, the tree just crashed in," Sheqal told The Straits Times on Monday (Aug 31). He was struck on the head by a branch.
Although there was no visible wound, he was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital for outpatient checks. Sheqal said on Monday that his head was still "a little painful"and doctors have advised his family to monitor him.
His aunt, Madam Nurul Nadiah Mohamed Aris, 26, was also in the flat when the tree fell. The childcare teacher said: "We heard a loud crash. We were so scared, we thought it was an earthquake.
"It's strange because the weather was calm and there was no rain when it happened."
Madam Nadiah added that glass from the windows shattered all over the living room and the window grilles were bent out of shape. Red ants from the tree also entered the flat.
It was a close shave for her mother, Madam Zainah Ahmad Hariri, 55, who would usually rest on a couch just by the shattered windows.
"That's my spot where I watch all my grandchildren play. I was lucky that I had just got up. We were all lucky," said Madam Zainah, who is a housewife.
The tree collapse also affected units directly above them on the third and fourth floor.
Insurance executive Faridah T. Sahib, 45, who lives in the third floor flat, said: "I'm very upset and very concerned about the well-being of my children."
When the tree fell, she and her husband were out getting groceries, and three of her four school-going children were at home by themselves.
"It's a good thing our curtains shielded the kids from most of the (broken) glass," she said.
Workers sent by the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council helped to clean up the debris inside the affected units. They also killed the red ants with insecticide.
When The Straits Times visited the scene on Monday afternoon, huge roots still remained in the grass verge where the tree once stood. Workers hired by the town council were lifting branches and chopped up segments of the tree trunk onto a truck. They were also sweeping up leaves and broken shards of glass which had fallen onto the road and pavement.
Mr Zainal Sapari, immediate past chairman of the town council, said the town council will be making insurance claims to pay for the residents' replacement windows.
The tree that fell was very healthy and showed no signs of rotting, added the MP for Pasir Punggol GRC.
"The town council's horticulture officers said it most probably fell because of heavy rainfall and strong winds," said Mr Zainal, referring to the downpour that took place before the incident on Sunday afternoon.
The tree, a Khaya species belonging to the Mahogany family, was more than 20 years old.
Mr Zainal added that some residents had noticed earlier that the crown of the tree was "lopsided" due to trimming.
While there were calls to remove the tree, these were because of the insects living on it, not because residents thought the tree itself posed any danger, he added.
Mr Zainal said that the town council is now looking at removing trees of the similar type and size in the area as a safety measure.
He said: "I prefer to err on the side of caution."