Gripped with fear, Mr Mohd Ani Mohd, 82, cried out as he lay crouched on the toilet floor naked: "Tolong, tolong (Malay for help, help)".
It was around 2am yesterday and Mr Mohd Ani was in serious trouble. He had dropped something into the drainage pipe in the bathroom of his Bedok North flat.
It is unclear what he dropped but the widower, who lives alone in a three-room flat on the eighth storey, got his hand stuck in the pipe. He ended up lying in that position for 13 hours until he was freed by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) .
Witnesses told The New Paper they heard cries for help from the eighth storey around 2am.
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she heard Mr Mohd Ani shout "tolong, tolong" but did nothing because he supposedly "always made noise".
Another neighbour said she heard faint cries but thought nothing of it and went back to sleep.
So, Mr Mohd Ani lay there until 11am - when his son Osman Mohd Ani, who is in his 50s, came to bring his father food. He saw his father lying prone in the bathroom.
Mr Osman told TNP how he tried to free his father.
"We tried to pull him but we couldn't release him," he said.
But Mr Osman's sister, Madam Mariati Mohd Ani, said: "He tried that for nearly an hour and then he called the SCDF for help at noon."
She said parts of her father's body were blue-black.
The library assistant, who is the youngest of five children, arrived minutes before the SCDF.
She said she was shocked to see her father in such a state.
"When the SCDF arrived, the first thing they did was to check his vital signs. They sedated him and tried to remove his arm but could not," she said.
She said she then went to the void deck as she did not want to get in the way.
The SCDF said they were alerted at 12.06pm. A fire engine, a Red Rhino, two supporting vehicles and an ambulance rushed to the scene.
Leading 20 men to rescue Mr Mohd Ani was SCDF Major Tan Teck Ming, commander of Tampines Fire Station.
Speaking to TNP yesterday after the three hour rescue operation, Major Tan said: "It was a complex rescue operation as the entire left arm (right up to the shoulder) was trapped in the pipe."
Rescuers first lubricated Mr Mohd Ani's arm in an attempt to release him from the water pipe. But that failed, so they had to resort to more extreme measures.
Major Tan said the SCDF Disaster Assistance Rescue Team (Dart) was activated.
The team tried to access the pipe from the unit directly below Mr Mohd Ani's flat by breaking the pipe and the surrounding concrete to extract his trapped arm.