SINGAPORE - The 75-year-old woman had died in her home.
But no one knew about it until a few days later, when her rubbish-filled flat began to smell even more than usual.
Her body was found motionless in her seventh storey flat in Block 209, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 at about 5pm last Friday by the police.
The woman, who was known only as Miss Tan, was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.
When The New Paper visited the flat on Tuesday, its door and gate were locked.
A yellow police note was attached to the gate, asking visitors to contact the police.
The neighbour who lives directly opposite Miss Tan's unit told TNP he had called the police on Friday.
"Miss Tan always sat alone at the coffee shop nearby. I hadn't seen her there for a week. Then I smelled something strong coming from her flat. So I called the police," said the 70-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee.
He said the elderly woman had been staying in the unit for more than 30 years. Initially, her younger sister, younger brother and sister-in-law also lived in the flat.
But after about 10 years, they all moved out, leaving Miss Tan alone in her flat for the next 20 years.
He recalled: "Miss Tan collected a lot of rubbish. There were piles of rubbish in her flat.
"She also used to put old furniture and flower pots outside her home. Cockroaches would run out and come to my flat."
Mr Lee added that the police had to remove the wooden door to enter the flat.
The door was re-installed on Monday by the Housing Board (HDB), he said.
He hopes that Miss Tan's younger brother, who is a taxi driver, will get in touch with the police soon.
Another neighbour, who lives on the sixth storey, said she had known Miss Tan for more than 30 years.
"Miss Tan used to exchange greetings with us. But she grew very quiet after her siblings moved away," said the neighbour in her sixties, who declined to be named.
"On Friday, there was a very strong smell from our window. We thought it was a dead rat.
"Then our neighbours said that Miss Tan had died. It's pitiful, dying alone in her flat without anyone knowing," she said.
Madam Margaret Tan, 62, who lives on the eighth storey, said the elderly woman's rubbish was a big fire hazard.
"Teenagers like to come here to smoke. We were worried that their cigarette butts would come in contact with Miss Tan's rubbish and cause a fire," she said, pointing at the staircase near her flat.
She added that her male neighbour, who also lives on the eighth storey, had bought a fire extinguisher for Mr Lee, the neighbour on the seventh storey - just in case a fire broke out in Miss Tan's flat.
"About 10 years ago, my husband went down to Miss Tan's flat to help her with a faulty water pipe. He came back saying that her flat was piled high with newspapers. The newspapers were human-height," said Madam Tan.
Shin Min Daily News reported on Tuesday that Ang Mo Kio Town Council had not received any complaints regarding Miss Tan's rubbish-filled flat.
The police are investigating the unnatural death.
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