'She was cut off in her prime'

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) deployed four water jets to contain the fire which broke out at the laboratory of medical gas manufacturer, Leeden National Oxygen, at Tanjong Kling Road near Jurong Shipyard, at around 9.20am on 12 October 2015. A woman chemist was killed and seven other employees, including four of the Company Emergency Response Team (Cert), were injured in the blaze.
PHOTO: Singapore Civil Defence Force

It was a long nine-hour wait for the family of Ms Lim Siaw Chian, 30, the chemist who died in Monday's fire.

They showed up at the Singapore General Hospital mortuary at 8.30am yesterday to claim her body.

But they had to wait till almost 6pm before they could do so.

The New Paper understands that Ms Lim had been hit by the explosions when fire broke out at the laboratory where she worked.

As a result, a DNA sample had to be collected from her infant daughter to help identify her remains, according to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.

The tragedy occurred at gas manufacturer Leeden National Oxygen on Tanjong Kling Road, near Jurong Shipyard, at around 9.20am.

Of the seven employees injured in the fire, three remained in hospital, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in an update. The other four were discharged earlier.

MOM has issued a Stop-Work Order for the production and bottling of hydrocarbons, and the buying and selling of bottled gases stored at the adjacent area near the accident lab.

Investigations to ascertain the cause of the incident are ongoing.

Throughout yesterday, Ms Lim's family and relatives were holed up in the mortuary building, waiting for news.

Her husband, visibly shaken and agonised, appeared twice outside the building, where he wept silently and later stared blankly into space before going back into the building.

Distraught, he declined to speak to reporters when approached.

The couple, who were Malaysians, met while they were studying in university here and they got married about two years ago.

They moved into their matrimonial flat in Jurong West a year ago and Ms Lim, who became a Singapore citizen just a month ago, returned to work after her maternity leave - a week before the fire.

She leaves behind her husband, who has also become a Singapore citizen, and an infant daughter.

Ms Lim lost her mother to kidney failure 22 years ago. Her mother was 30 years old then.

Her granduncle, Mr Gay Thiam Huat, 64, who lives here, told The Straits Times Online that she often visited him when she first came to Singapore with her mother at a young age.

The last time he and the rest of the family saw Ms Lim was at her wedding.

WELL-LOVED

Described by relatives and colleagues as a "bubbly girl", Ms Lim was well-loved by all.

"She was a very good person, a very humble person," said Leeden safety manager Lee Mun Hong, 45.

"It was just too bad she was cut off in her prime."

His last encounter with Ms Lim was in the lunch room early last month.

"She was sharing the birth of her daughter, how it was such a wonderful experience. I saw such joy in her face," he said.

Mr Nelson Poh, 58, another safety officer who cycled over from the company's premises at Shipyard Road to help fight the fire (see report on right), admitted that he cried while in hospital.

"I was sad, really. I am still sad because I think about the girl who died, that I couldn't do anything to help her," he added.

Ms Lim's remains were placed in a brown coffin and put in a white van belonging to Chiang Huat Undertaker of Johor. It was sent back to her hometown of Saleng, not far from Senai International Airport in Johor last evening.

Her funeral will be held today.


This article was first published on October 14, 2015.
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