Workers rescued after being stuck in gondola lift at Punggol construction site fire

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A fire broke out at a school under construction in Punggol on Tuesday, May 16 2017.
A fire broke out at a school under construction in Punggol on Tuesday, May 16 2017. PHOTO: FRANCIS NG
A fire broke out at a school under construction in Punggol on Tuesday, May 16 2017. PHOTO: FRANCIS NG

SINGAPORE - Two workers were rescued by firefighters after they were stranded in a gondola lift during a fire at a Punggol construction site on Tuesday (May 16) afternoon.

Both were taken to Changi General Hospital for observation for smoke inhalation.

An eyewitness told The Straits Times that officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) rappelled down a half-completed building at the Global Indian International School site and brought the two men to safety.

After the fire broke out, electricity was cut off to the gondola, stranding the men.

The fire broke out at Hon Industries Pte Ltd's worksite at Punggol Field, where the school is being constructed, a MOM spokesperson said. MOM is investigating the incident, he added.

"The Occupier has confirmed that the 2 workers who were previously stranded in the gondola has been rescued, while the remaining workers have been accounted for," the spokesperson said.

In videos and photos sent to ST, black smoke is shown rising from the construction site and two explosions can be heard.

Eyewitness Catherine Lim told ST that she saw smoke from a Housing Board unit opposite the school at about 4.30pm.

"The smoke was rising out of the building and there were two explosions," said the 35-year-old housewife. "I can smell burning rubber."

She said the workers were evacuated and assembled at a emergency evacuation site, and fire engines arrived at about 4.40pm.

In a Facebook live video posted by Mr Mohammed Thamrin, the gondola can be seen and the fire appears to have abated.

Mr Thamrin, a 40-year-old photographer, told ST that his wife told him there was a strong burning smell. He crossed the road from his home at Edgedale Plains and took two Facebook Live videos, the first of which shows about 100 construction workers being evacuated from the school.

The second shows two men being rescued from a gondola that had stopped working. Two SCDF officers rappelled down from the roof and rescued the men, who appeared calm, said Mr Thamrin. He added that he did not see anyone hurt.

The police at 5.24pm posted an advisory on their Facebook page saying the left and centre lanes along Punggol East Road were closed.

SCDF said in a Facebook post at 5pm that it was at the scene conducting firefighting operations.

In an update at 6.02pm, SCDF said it was at the scene battling the fire, which engulfed an area of about 30m by 50m, with four water jets.

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