Foreign workers risk injury to save toddler dangling from second-storey flat

Foreign workers risk injury to save toddler dangling from second-storey flat
Foreign worker saves child whose head was stuck in between rails. SCDF presenting public spiritedness award to acknowledge their civic-mindedness and quick thinking.

As soon as the two foreign workers saw the toddler they had rescued on Thursday, they broke into smiles and reached out to play with her.

"This is the baby!" one exclaimed to the other in Tamil.

Mr P. Muthukumar, 24, and Mr S. Shanmuganathan, 35, saved the toddler, Naureh Fitria Auni, whose head was stuck in between a horizontal metal pole of a drying rack and the balcony of the second-storey flat in Jurong East.

Her mother, Madam Noreen Saniri, had left Auni asleep alone in a bedroom when she took her five-year-old daughter to a nearby kindergarten at about 1pm.

In the 15 minutes that the 27-year-old housewife was away, Auni, who will turn three in August, woke up.

She then made her way through two doors to the balcony, carrying an iPad.

She is believed to have climbed up a table, dropped the device and slipped off the balcony reaching for it. (See infographics above.) Fortunately, her head got stuck, which saved her from falling.

That was when Mr Muthukumar and Mr Shanmuganathan, who were working at a nearby road, saw her and sprung into action.

They climbed up a water pipe on the exterior of the block to get to the second storey where they managed to free the dangling Auni. Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers later brought the toddler down.

By the time Madam Noreen got back, her daughter was safe, with only a small bruise on her cheek from her ordeal. (See report on facing page.)

The rescue was captured on video, uploaded on Thursday and went viral as Singaporeans hailed the workers as heroes.

The Indian nationals were presented with a public spiritedness award by the SCDF yesterday for their "quick thinking and selflessness".

MODEST

But it was clear that they did not do it for the glory in the manner they modestly and patiently answered questions from the media during the award ceremony.

The men said that all they thought of during their rescue was the child screaming in pain.

Mr Shanmuganathan, who has been working in Singapore for four years, said: "I just wanted to get the baby to safety."

His own safety did not even cross his mind as he expertly climbed up to the unit.

"We didn't think about our safety, even for a second. The safety of the baby was our only concern. Nothing else mattered," said Mr Shanmuganathan, who has an eight-month-old baby back home in India.

He has yet to see his own daughter in the flesh but hopes to do so when he goes home for a visit in three months' time.

"I just thought of the baby as any other parent would have," he said.

Mr Muthukumar, who has been working here for three years, recalled how they heard Auni's cries and passers-by shouting for help just after they resumed their road-marking work following lunch.

"The cries of the toddler just made me feel so much pity for her. I knew she was in great pain and I wanted to help her," he said.

After one of their colleagues tried in vain to climb up, Mr Shanmuganathan successfully made his way up to Auni.

"I hoisted her up so she would feel more comfortable," he said.

Mr Muthukumar, who was not captured on video, then climbed up the pipe to help his friend.

While Mr Shanmuganathan stood on a ledge holding Auni up, Mr Muthukumar got on the balcony and pushed her head down.

Mr Shanmuganathan then gently wiggled her body to ease her head from the drying rack.

After a few minutes, they succeeded in freeing her - just in time for the SCDF's arrival.

"She immediately stopped crying when she was free," said Mr Muthukumar.

The pair then handed Auni to SCDF officers who brought her down using a ladder.

They had to go back to work after that so Auni's parents did not have a chance to thank them - until yesterday afternoon when The New Paper arranged for the heroes to visit the family.

The pair remained modest and shy when Auni's father, Mr Muhammad Fazlee Abdul Aziz, 28, thanked them profusely for saving her. But they were clearly smitten with little Auni as they played with her.

Mr Muthukumar, who could not stop smiling and pinching her cheeks, said: "She is very cute. And she loves to pose for the camera."

As Mr Fazlee looked at the three of them interacting, he said: "Now I know we'll be friends for life. I will never forget what they did."

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