SINGAPORE – After enjoying breakfast with his wife in Kampong Glam on Wednesday morning, Mr Abdul Hamed was shocked to find his parked car at Sultan Gate pinned by a fallen tree.
“I have never parked in this area before because it was always full,” said the 56-year-old crew manager and depot controller. “But it was especially empty today, so I took my chance, and this had to happen.”
The rear windscreen and left signal light of his brown Tivoli were damaged by the large tree, which also landed on two other parked cars. No injuries were reported from the incident, which happened around 11am.
“Now, I have to take urgent leave to take the car to (the workshop for) repair. But I’m grateful that my car was not as badly hit as the other, which was between mine and the last car,” said Mr Abdul Hamed.
A National Parks Board (NParks) spokesman said it was alerted to a snapped trunk incident involving a clump of weeping fig trees (Ficus benjamina) near Sultan Gate at around 11.20am. The obstruction was cleared by 12.30pm.
He added that under its tree management programme, NParks inspects trees once every six to 24 months, with a higher frequency, depending on the locality and age of trees. Advanced inspections are carried out during periods of adverse weather, and for trees with a girth of more than 4m.
As a result, the annual number of tree incidents has dropped from about 3,100 cases in 2001 to around 480 in 2022. An average of around 400 cases are reported annually since 2019, added the spokesman.
Eyewitness Sonny Wee, who has been selling hand drums across the road for about 15 years, described the incident as sounding like “a building collapse”.
“I have seen broken branches in the area, but this is my first time witnessing a tree trunk falling,” said the 71-year-old. “I consider myself quite lucky. If the tree had fallen sideways, it could have hit my shop and myself.”
Another eyewitness, Mr Hassan Mohd Amin, said some young children were playing near the tree just before it fell. “I suddenly heard someone shouting and the next thing I knew, the kids were running all over the place,” said the 59-year-old, who was in a stationary car and waiting for a parking space.
“They probably realised that the tree was moving... I later heard a loud cracking sound, and the next thing I saw was the tree on top of the three cars that were next to it. Thankfully, only the cars were damaged and no one was hurt.”