The spray was 5 to 6 storeys high

FOUNTAIN: A water pipe burst after it was struck by a pile operator.

SINGAPORE - He was doing piling work for a planned covered walkway between two HDB blocks, and had already driven three metal poles into the ground.

Mr Suresh Selvan was about to drive the fourth and final pole at around 9am, when he realised that something in the soil beneath the pit he was working at was obstructing the pole.

"After I hit the thing in the ground, I saw water filling the pit slowly. It looked like someone had turned on the tap in a bathtub.

"That was when I realised that I might have hit a water pipe," said the 30-year-old.

He stopped his machine and moved aside as the water level in the pit rose quickly.

Mudwater also started spurting out of the pit. A few minutes later, an enormous fountain erupted from the pipe, spraying water towards the block of flats opposite.

"The spray was about five to six storeys high - I was very shocked. We quickly ran away from our worksite to avoid being hit by the spray," said Mr Suresh.

The incident happened on Wednesday at Punggol Central between Blocks 166A and 166B.

PUB personnel arrived on the scene and stopped the leak at about 10.30am. But to repair the pipe, they had to turn off the mains.

This led to a disruption in the supply of water on the lower floors of the two blocks.

Some 34 units from the first to fifth storeys of both blocks were affected. Residents living on the sixth storey and above were able to get water from the tanks on the roof. Both blocks are 19 storeys tall.

AFFECTED

One of those affected was Mr Zul Hussein, who lives on the fifth storey of Block 166B.

He was about to bathe his bedridden father-in-law before taking him to a doctor when he turned on the shower and realised there was no water supply to his flat.

He had to join other residents downstairs to collect water from a PUB water tank truck, which had been sent there to help the affected residents.

Said Mr Zul, 37, a container handling specialist: "My wife first found out that there was no water around 11am when she wanted to wash the dishes.

"It's very inconvenient for us because we can't even use the toilets at home. Bathing my father-in-law would be very troublesome today."

Mr K.W. Lee, a retiree in his 60s who lives on the fourth storey of Block 166B, said he was surprised with what had happened.

He added: "I find it unacceptable that I have to wait so long to get water running again in my taps.

"I'm supposed to go out, and I can't even bathe."

PUB, the national water agency, said supply to both blocks was restored at 4pm.

benlim@sph.com.sg

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