Family misses cremation at Mandai due to error

A grieving family was unable to send off an 85-year-old man as he was cremated in the wrong furnace at the Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium Complex yesterday.

Angered by the incident, the family argued with crematorium staff members for three hours and police were even called in, Shin Min Daily News reported yesterday.

The dead man, Soh Kang Gee, was supposed to be cremated in the furnace within sight of the crematorium's Viewing Hall 2 yesterday morning.

Mr Soh's son-in-law, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, 60, told Shin Min that some 30 family members had turned up at the hall at about 9.15am to recite prayers. The dead man had one son and five daughters.

But 15 minutes later, the family still had not seen Mr Soh's casket and thought that something was amiss.

"After waiting for 40 minutes, we asked crematorium staff about it and realised later that my father-in-law's casket had been transferred to another furnace," said Mr Tan.

The body had been moved about 30 minutes earlier, Lianhe Wanbao reported.

Upon learning this, the family members were furious and rushed to Viewing Hall 1, where they would be able to see Mr Soh's casket - but it was too late.

Some family members were at the waiting area below the hall to seek an explanation from the crematorium staff. A call was also made to the police.

The police told My Paper that they received a call at 10.36am about a dispute at a Mandai Road building. The police advised the parties involved to keep the peace and no further police assistance was required.

Mr Tan said that based on closed-circuit television footage, his father-in-law's casket was transported from the furnace within view of Hall 2 to Hall 1 instead.

"After opening the furnace, an incompletely burnt spectacle frame was found. We were then able to verify that it was my father-in-law's body," said Mr Tan.

He added that the crematorium staff have since apologised.

When contacted, the National Environment Agency (NEA), which manages the crematorium, told My Paper that the agency "deeply regrets the incident".

A spokesman said "the casket was charged into the incorrect cremator in Viewing Hall 1, which was not within sight of the next-of-kin who were waiting in Viewing Hall 2".

She added that the NEA has apologised for the distress caused to the family and is "reviewing our procedures to prevent recurrence of this error".

"Disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate," she said.

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