Trauma from the past: Still haunted by the Eniwetok tragedy

Trauma from the past: Still haunted by the Eniwetok tragedy
Eniwetok, the Panama-registered drillship involved in the Sentosa cable car tragedy that happened the day before. The accident resulted in seven deaths.

SINGAPORE - When news of a cable car incident first reached The New Paper at 5.28pm yesterday, there were fears fuelled by the cable car disaster of 1983.

At 6pm on Jan 29, the drillship Eniwetok was being towed from its berth in Keppel Wharf when its gantry tower snagged one of the two cable car lines, sending two cable cars plunging 18 storeys into the sea.

Seven passengers died in the waters near Jardine Steps as the cars sank.Another 13 were stranded in four remaining carriages for eight hours before they were rescued.

The cable car system, which started running in 1974, re-opened only seven months later. Up to 1982, it transported 900,000 passengers annually, but this fell to about 650,000 after the incident. Passenger numbers returned to normal only from 1987.

The cable car system is checked yearly while its carriages are checked for wear and tear every five years.

Since 2011, a comprehensive regulatory framework regulates the fire- and rescue-management system of amusement rides in Singapore.

Yesterday's incident occurred on the line under construction, and is independent of the existing cable way system from Mount Faber to Sentosa, said a statement from the Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC).

It assured the public that the existing Singapore Cable Car line was unaffected and remained operational. SDC is working with its contractor while the Building and Construction Authority investigates the matter.

This article was first published on August 11, 2014.
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