When the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers got to Jalan Kuras, off Upper Thomson Road, at about 12.40pm yesterday, they saw that the tree had fallen on a car, a grey Mazda whose bonnet and windscreen were damaged.
But as the officers surveyed the situation at the open-air carpark diagonally opposite the Giant supermarket, they realised that two other cars were hidden under the branches and leaves.
Not only that, a family of three - a couple and their 10-year-old daughter - was inside the middle car, a white Malaysian-registered Mazda.
Surprised by their discovery, the SCDF firefighters quickly got to work.
Using two chainsaws, a power saw and a hydraulic cutter, the rescue team cut away at the branches, creating a gap between the first car and the family's car.
One of the rescuers, Corporal (NSF) Terence Tan, 20, then squeezed through the gap to get to the trapped family. He said: "I made sure to maintain eye contact with them so that I knew they were okay.
"The driver actually gave us a thumbs-up to say he was all right." Fortunately, the door wasn't jammed, and the driver and his family could crawl out of the wrecked vehicle after 15 minutes.
Looking visibly shaken, the driver of the white Mazda, a man in his 30s, later told The New Paper that he had gone there to have lunch with his family at the nearby Sembawang Hills Food Centre.
"The tree fell on my car before we could get out," he said.
Major Lee, who has been with the Ang Mo Kio Fire Station for two years, said that this was his second rescue operation involving fallen trees.
"The driver of the car seemed calm, but the wife and daughter were still in shock. They did not say anything when our officers tried to assure them that they were safe," he said.
Mr David Lee, 40, whose car was also involved in the incident, said he had no idea what had happened until he approached the carpark.
He said: "I had gone for coffee in a nearby cafe with my friend, and no one informed me about my car."
Mr Lee, who frequents this area, said that he rarely sees incidents like these happening.
The commander of the Ang Mo Kio fire station, Major Lee Soon Huat, 36, said that the family was lucky that there was a car next to theirs.
If the first car had not been there, the impact would have been directed at their car, and the injuries could have been severe.
The sudden thunderstorms and strong winds that started at about 12.30pm also created havoc with tre-es and traffic in other parts of Singapore.
A Land Transport Authority spokesman said the heavy rain had caused several cases of obstruction on expressways because of fallen tree branches.
As of 4.30pm, there were four such incidents along sections of the Tampines Expressway and one on the Central Expressway. The branches have since been cleared.
This article was first published on July 30, 2014.
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