NEA investigating how empty coffins ended up floating in Kallang River

The two coffins were first spotted near Block 15 Upper Boon Keng Road.
The two coffins were first spotted near Block 15 Upper Boon Keng Road.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) is investigating how two coffins ended up floating along the Kallang River near Upper Boon Keng Road on Wednesday (May 8) morning. 

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for NEA said it had received reports that the two coffins were sighted in the water body on Wednesday before noon. 

“Our cleaning contractor was activated and the coffins were subsequently removed from the river at around 1330hrs on the same day,” said the spokesman on Thursday.

“Waterways are meant to convey rainwater to our reservoirs or the sea. We urge the public and businesses to keep the waterways clean by not polluting them, including the discharge of any bulky items into them.”

A photo of the two open coffins, believed to have been used to repatriate bodies into Singapore, was shared on social media platforms Facebook and Reddit on Wednesday, prompting netizens to make light of the unusual sighting. 

The two coffins were first spotted near Block 15 Upper Boon Keng Road, according to a report by Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News.

A 35-year-old resident told a reporter that she was perplexed when she noticed the coffins floating on the river in the morning, adding that it is inappropriate for them to be disposed of in such a manner.

It is not known how the two coffins ended up in the river.

Funeral director Jackie Lee from Lee Teoh Heng Undertaker told The Straits Times that the coffins were most likely imported and were not properly disposed of after the bodies were dealt with.

"Whoever dumped the coffins into the river has no morals," he added. "After dealing with the bodies, we will always tear apart the coffins before properly disposing of them."

Mr Lee, who has dealt with imported coffins, said it should not be difficult to trace the parties who are responsible for the coffins, as the attached shipping labels can be seen in the Shin Min photos.

According to the NEA website, a coffin import permit is required to repatriate the body of a Singaporean or permanent resident to the country for cremation or burial.

While some netizens expressed concern that the coffins may potentially cause pollution, ST understands that the river is channelled to water treatment plants.

Meanwhile, some netizens are seeing the lighter side of the sighting, with one Facebook post saying: "If you see a very pale looking person who is wet, please call the Ghostbusters!"

Another Reddit user said: "A great metaphor for life."