I kept telling myself not to let go: Tenant who rescued maid from ledge in Bukit Panjang

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SINGAPORE - When she got hold of the arms of a maid from Myanmar dangling from the fifth floor, Jane was certain about one thing: she was not going to let go.

The 24-year-old maid had locked herself by mistake in a room in a fifth floor flat at Block 241, Bukit Panjang Ring Road on Wednesday (Dec 6) at about 8am. She tried to get out of the room by first crawling out of a window and then using the ledge to find a way back into the flat.

Wanting to be identified only as Jane, the secretary who rents a room in the same unit, was alerted of the maid's predicament earlier by a neighbour.

"I held onto her with all my might. She's bigger than me, but I kept telling myself not to let go," said Jane on Thursday, who held onto the dangling maid for about 20 seconds before police and a neighbour helped pull her over the railing.

The whole rescue took about a minute but Jane, 35, said: "The image of the maid crying as I held onto her, I can't forget that. It's scary for her, but it is also traumatising for me."

The incident was captured on a viral video by Madam Anita Sahari, 50, who was in her kitchen preparing lunch in a nearby block when she saw the maid.

"By that time someone had called the police as I could hear sirens. Even as I was recording the video my hands were shaking," said the housewife.

In the video, the barefooted maid is seen walking the length of the ledge while holding onto the wall and window grilles for support, and approaches Jane at the corridor.

Jane was alerted to the drama by a neighbour banging away on the front door. "The neighbour yelled 'Your maid is on the ledge'," said Jane. "That's when I looked up and saw a hand outside the window," she added.

She rushed to the window and tried to open the grilles but they were locked. Jane, who had been renting the room for about five months, said: "For a moment she disappeared from my view and I thought she had fallen. So I ran out of the flat to check if I could see her from the corridor, and thankfully she was still there."

"She can't really speak English, so I was trying to signal to her to stop moving."

She said: "I normally leave home before 8am for work, so perhaps it was fate that I woke up late that day." The Singapore Civil Defence Force said no one was taken to the hospital.

The maid's employer, who only wanted to be known as Mr Raj, 54, an army regular, told The Straits Times that he received a call after the incident, while he was on the way to work.

The maid had been with the family for about a month, but had worked for another employer for about seven months before that, he said.

"Fortunately, the tenant was home. If not, I wouldn't know how to answer to the maid's family," said Mr Raj, who added that the maid has poor English and normally converses with the family in Tamil.

He sent her back to the agency on Thursday and he was told she returned to Myanmar the same day.

Mr Raj said the doorknob of the particular room the maid was locked in had been faulty for awhile.

"I've reminded her about it before. I don't know why she decided to endanger her own life, but luckily nobody got hurt."

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