Man struck by falling plaster strip outside hotel in Little India

Slabs from the plaster strip that fell can be seen at a corner of the cordoned-off area outside Wanderlust Hotel in Dickson Road.
Slabs from the plaster strip that fell can be seen at a corner of the cordoned-off area outside Wanderlust Hotel in Dickson Road.ST PHOTO: NG HUIWEN

35-year-old cook at adjacent coffee shop suffers spinal injuries after plaster falls from 2nd floor

A man suffered spinal injuries after he was struck by a falling plaster strip outside a boutique hotel in Little India.

The Straits Times understands that the 35-year-old Malaysian was sitting on a ledge next to the walkway outside Wanderlust Hotel when he was hit on Tuesday night.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received a call for medical assistance at the boutique hotel in Dickson Road at 11.40pm. The victim, a cook at ABC Nasi Kandar coffee shop next to the hotel, was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Videos posted on Facebook showed large pieces of plaster on the ground next to the injured man. The victim appeared to be in pain, and a group of passers-by could be seen trying to calm him before the paramedics arrived.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said a strip of architectural feature made of plaster, estimated to be 4m by 0.3m in size, fell off the second floor of the building.

"As an immediate precautionary measure, the affected area directly below, where the architectural feature had fallen from the building, and other parts of the building facade with the similar feature, have been cordoned off," said a BCA spokesman.

BCA has instructed the building owner to appoint a professional engineer to investigate the cause of the incident.

An image circulating on social media shows the injured man at the scene. The cook, who works at an adjacent coffee shop, was sitting on a ledge outside the hotel when he was hit on Tuesday night.

The hotel has also been asked to inspect the condition of the rest of the building facade and carry out permanent rectification works as recommended by the engineer.

When The Straits Times visited the hotel yesterday, a large area in front of the building had been cordoned off, and the missing plaster strip had not been replaced.

The victim started working at the coffee shop next to the hotel just two weeks ago, according to his colleague.

"I hope he is recovering well," said the assistant at the coffee shop who wanted to be known only as Miss Zhang.

Ms Loh Sit Yee, 48, who works at a zi char stall at another coffee shop near the hotel, said she heard a crash on Tuesday night. "It was a loud boom, like thunder, and gave us all a shock.

"We initially thought it was a car accident, but we soon realised the man was hit. He was lying there in pain and could not move. It was an awful sight," she said in Mandarin.

Ms Loh added that she has seen the man sitting at the same spot on several occasions.

"I feel worried about the safety of older buildings, such as this one. I think I will avoid the area near the hotel for now," she added.

Others said people often take a breather and sit on the ledge outside the hotel - the spot where the man was hit. These include hotel guests and those who work in the area.

The building that houses the hotel was bought by KMC Holdings, a company owned by hotelier and restaurateur Loh Loh Lik Peng, in 2008. It used to be the Hong Wen School, and once housed a kindergarten, educational facility and prayer hall.

The renovated hotel opened in 2010 and won an Architectural Heritage Award from the Urban Redevelopment Authority the next year.

In June this year, it was sold to local property investment firm, 8M Real Estate, for $37 million.

There have been other cases of decorative structures falling off buildings.

In June, a decorative panel fell 40 storeys from the top of a Housing Board block in Bendemeer Road. No one was hurt. Police officers cordoned off an area roughly half the size of a basketball court for about 17 hours. Checks on neighbouring blocks with similar facade features were also conducted as a precautionary measure.

In the same month, a decorative structure on a Housing Board block in Pasir Ris fell from a height of at least eight storeys. No one was hurt.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'Man struck by falling plaster strip outside hotel in Little India'. Print Edition | Subscribe