The clues lay before him: A lone slipper on the side of the factory's waste-water tank and a piece of clothing floating inside it.
Factory boss Ang Keat Hong - whose workers Yang Zhonghua, 37, and Zhai Hailei, 26, died after falling into the 3m-deep tank - told Chinese evening papers yesterday that these clues led him to them.
"Once I grabbed (the clothing), I realised it was Yang, but he (was already) unconscious," said Mr Ang, who runs Nam Heng Leather Dyeing in Ubi.
He helped to pull Mr Yang out and also assisted in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him, "but he could not be awakened", Mr Ang added. Mr Zhai was hauled up next.
The tragedy took place on Dec 26 last year. The men were taken unconscious to Changi General Hospital, where they died on Saturday, after being in a nine-day coma.
It is believed that Mr Zhai, a Henan native, had jumped into the tank to save his colleague. Mr Ang told the Chinese papers that he had paid for funeral arrangements and intends to offer monetary compensation to the families.
A ladder will be installed in the tank and its filtration system tweaked to avoid having workers change it in the future, he said.
According to Mr Ang, Mr Yang, a Shandong native, had already quit his job and had booked a flight home on Dec 30 to visit his sick mother.
The bodies were cremated on Sunday. The factory has been closed temporarily while the Ministry of Manpower investigates the incident.
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