'Chemical contamination' contained in joint exercise at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

The simulated exercise involved passengers who had passed out from an unknown chemical on board a ferry.
The simulated exercise involved passengers who had passed out from an unknown chemical on board a ferry.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCDF
The simulated exercise involved passengers who had passed out from an unknown chemical on board a ferry.
The simulated exercise involved passengers who had passed out from an unknown chemical on board a ferry.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCDF

SINGAPORE - Passengers were on board a ferry in the waters near Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on Wednesday afternoon (March 28) when they suddenly started to "feel ill".

There was an unknown vapour in the vessel, with some so overwhelmed they collapsed. Others coughed and gasped for air. The ferry captain quickly alerted the authorities to the emergency.

This was part of a four-hour simulated exercise carried out by the Singapore Civil Defence Force and other agencies such as the Police Coast Guard and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) that began at 3pm on Wednesday.

The operation, named Exercise Bluewhale, involved about 35 emergency and supporting vehicles, including marine vessels from SCDF and related agencies.

After SCDF's Marine Command vessels arrived, SCDF officers attended to the "casualties", while a team set off to locate and mitigate the source of the vapour.

Photos of the exercise show passengers slumped in their seats, with officers attending to them.


A "contaminated" passenger being hosed down on the ferry. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/SCDF

As part of the exercise, "contaminated" passengers were made to undergo decontamination on the Marine Firefighting Vessel before they were transported to the mainland via the Fast Craft Utility vessel from the Republic of Singapore Navy.

All contaminated clothes were discarded, with passengers receiving fresh sets of clothes.

While this was ongoing, vessels from MPA cordoned off the area of operations.

Affected passengers who had arrived at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and had been decontaminated were assessed by the SCDF medical team at the first-aid point, where there were also officers from the Ministry of Health and the Singapore Armed Forces.

Passengers who did not need medical assistance were screened by police officers, along with officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. 

The exercise was part of SCDF’s ongoing efforts to test incident management and inter-agency coordination involving a major maritime HazMat operation with mass casualties.