Flames shooting out, glass shards everywhere: Worker recounts near miss in Ubi explosion

Eyewitness Pan Wei Min said he was almost knocked off his feet by the explosion at the Audi Service Centre, on March 7, 2023.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – The explosion at the Audi service centre at 55 Ubi Road 1 on Tuesday was felt by those working in nearby buildings, and sent some running for cover.

Mr Pan Wei Min, who was on his way to work at a hardware store in the nearby Oxley BizHub 2 building, said he was about 4m away from the site when the shockwave almost knocked him off his feet.

The 35-year-old said debris flew everywhere, and one fragment narrowly missed his left eye. It left him with a small cut above his eyebrow.

“The blast wasn’t too loud, but I felt a ringing in my ears afterwards. Some debris flew to the adjacent building,” the Chinese national said in Mandarin.

“My first thought was, ‘How could an explosion like this happen?’ I decided to crouch and then run away from the blast as I feared there would be another explosion.”

The incident happened at about 8.55am as Mr Pan was walking on a path by the fence that separates the Audi service centre from the Oxley BizHub building.

SCDF officers inspecting the site where the explosion had occurred at the Audi service centre in Ubi on March 7, 2023. PHOTO: The Straits Times

A fire had broken out in the motor room on the ground floor of the building that houses the service centre before a blast sent debris flying in all directions.

Mr Pan, who ran to a nearby bus stop, said: “I was the only person in the immediate vicinity when the blast occurred. A security guard ran over from Oxley BizHub to see what happened.”

“If I had been a little closer, the shockwave might have knocked me over. It caught me off guard.”

Staff evacuated at the Audi service centre in Ubi where an explosion had occurred on March 7, 2023. PHOTO: The Straits Times

An employee of Cafe Limonci at Oxley BizHub was opening the eatery for business when she heard the blast.

“I heard and felt the explosion. I thought something large had fallen at first.

“When I stepped outside to take a look, I saw glass shards scattered everywhere,” said the employee, who declined to be named.

A security guard who works in the same building said he saw flames shooting out from the motor room.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said in a Facebook post that members of the public used fire extinguishers to put out the fire when they saw smoke coming from the motor room.

However, one of them fell and had abrasions on both hands. He was taken to Raffles Hospital, SCDF said.

A large hole can be seen on the exterior of the Audi Service Centre after an explosion on March 7, 2023. PHOTO: The Straits Times

The explosion blew open a section of the Audi service centre’s building.

In a Facebook post, Audi said the building and the service centre will be closed temporarily while investigations continue.


This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.