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Man in ICU following Tanglin Mall explosion

The door led to a switch-board room, where an electrical box had caught fire. -My Paper
Dominic Ho

Wed, Jan 09, 2013
My Paper

SINGAPORE - It seemed like any other day when store assistant Rita Mohd, 37, opened her clothing shop, Petit Bateau Store, on the second storey of Tanglin Mall at 9am yesterday.

However, just 15 minutes later, she heard a very loud explosion. She then saw a lot of smoke pouring out from the door opposite her store, from which a man without his shirt ran out with burns all over his neck, screaming for help.

The door led to a switch- board room, where an electrical box had caught fire. According to Ms Rita, a routine check is usually conducted by the same people in the room between 9am and 9.15am every morning.

Cleaning supervisor Thet Naing Win, 31, who was in his office just one floor below the switchboard room, also heard the explosion.

When he went to check out the situation, he saw contractors and managers - identified based on their attire - with their faces blackened by smoke.

When the Singapore Civil Defence Force arrived, the fire had already been extinguished. It said that five Chinese men were injured in the incident and taken to Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

One victim, in his 40s, suffered 18 per cent burns to his body and, as of press time, is in the intensive-care unit on a ventilator.

Three others suffered burns on their arms, faces and necks, and are still under observation at SGH, but their conditions were less serious.

The fifth man, in his 40s, suffered some discomfort in his left ear, following the incident.

He told Shin Min Daily News yesterday at the hospital that when he and a manager were in the room overseeing electrical works, they saw a sudden flash of light before hearing a very loud explosion.

5 injured in Tanglin Mall explosion
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: Shin Min)

A part-time worker, who wanted to be known only as Miss Goh, 20, said that the mall's management called tenants at 1.30pm to inform them of a power failure in the morning.

She added that tenants were assured that everything was back to normal, and there was no mention of any injuries.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Tanglin Mall's management could not be reached for comment by press time.

According to various store owners, while yesterday's incident was the first time an explosion occurred, there have been several cases of power failure at Tanglin Mall over the last six months.

My Paper understands that one of the more recent cases took place on Dec 7 last year, when an electrical fault occurred at 11.25am at an electrical riser that serves some of the tenants' premises.

Efforts were made to re-set the electrical breaker, but the mall's management eventually had to bring in a licensed electrician to solve the problem.

Power was restored eight hours later, at 7.40pm.

One store owner, in her 40s, said she hoped that yesterday's incident would "not frighten people from visiting" the mall.

5 injured in Tanglin Mall explosion
Click on thumbnail to view (Photos: Shin Min)

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