01 August 2010

Fallen Trees

Recently, there has been a spate of fallen tree incidents in Singapore. Some of these incidents involve small trees that do not cause serious injuries or property damage. However, some fallen trees are large mature trees. If these falling heavy trees hit people or property, there are likely to be injuries or even death as well as severe damage to property.

ST Photo
On 20 Jul 2010 at around 2 pm, 32-year-old Chua Loong Wai was crushed to death by a fallen raintree. This incident happened along the junction of Thomson Hills Drive and Yio Chu Kang Road.

Undeniably, it is a tragic accident that is both sad and shocking. However, Loong Wai is not the first person in Singapore to die by a falling tree. You may recall that in May 2007, there were 2 separate fatal incidents caused by falling trees/branches that happened to a woman in Bukit Batok Nature Park and a Vietnamese man near the Tree Top Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir.

According to the authorities, the tree that killed Loong Wai was uprooted by a microburst which is a localised, powerful descending air draft column that produces damaging winds at high speed. Microbursts are known to knock down fully grown trees. National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said that were 240 incidents involving trees or branches which fell last month, largely due to bad weather. The figure is more than double that of the 90 incidents during the same month last year.

ST Photo
Just 2 days after this tragic accident, another similar incident occurred at about 7.45 am at a road junction near Block 226, Ang Mo Kio Street 22. This time, the 3 occupants of the blue Chevrolet were lucky to get away with only some scratches. However their car was badly damaged with both its front and back windscreens shattered.

Then just 2 days ago, a motorcyclist had a narrow escape when he tried to avoid a tree branch that had fallen across 2 out of 3 lanes of the Bukit Timah Expressway. He lost control of his scooter and fell. However, it was fortunate that he was not hurt.

Police Roadblock
Only this morning at about 9 am, when I was exiting CTE (southbound) and turning right into Jalan Bukit Merah, I encountered a police roadblock. Traffic was diverted back into CTE (northbound).

Fallen tree blocking off all 3 lanes of westbound Jalan Bukit Merah
The cause of the road diversion was a large fallen tree blocking all 3 lanes of the westbound carriageway of Jalan Bukit Merah.

A worker perched precariously on top of the fallen tree
Workers could be seen cutting the tree apart and a crane was at the scene to hoist the branches to the roadside.

Curious onlookers at the scene
Luckily, there appeared to be no casualties. It is fortunate that this incident happened early on a Sunday morning when traffic is light. As most motorists know, Jalan Bukit Merah is a major thoroughfare that has very heavy traffic during peak hours. I shudder to think of the dire consequences should a vehicle be hit in this case.

Part of the concrete walkway was prised out of the ground by the immense force.

Off-ground pavement
Even a lamp post with a Tanjong Pagar GRC poster tied to it had fallen over unceremoniously
Maybe the tree near the National Museum that mysteriously disappeared more than a century ago was also annihilated by a microburst? Whichever the case, you should always try to stay indoors in inclement weather - besides an increased likelihood of being struck by lightning, a falling tree is yet another very real and present danger which you are exposed to when you are outdoors in bad weather.


Further Reading:

17 trees uprooted early Sunday


Lam Chun See said...

I am very curious. How did you take those photos of the Bt Merah tree? Certainly not from your car right?

Lam Chun See said...

This afternoon I went for walking exercise at Dairy Farm park. Saw many fallen trees and branches. Yesterday's winds were really strong.

Victor said...

Chun See, after I detoured into CTE (northbound), I make a turn back and parked at Blk 146 Jalan Bukit Merah, a short walking distance away from the fallen tree. Cavalry then goes on foot.

At the scene, I went up to the top floor of Blk 132 (a 10-storey block) to take the bird's eye view photo - the lengths which a diehard blogger would go to in order to get the photos published on my blog just for my readers.

peter said...

What's the point of trimming a few branches and twigs on the highways, parks and road dividers? Common sense dictates that when you see roots growing "sideways" on the surface instead of growing deep into the ground, see roots cracking up road and pavement surfaces, trees leaning to one side, and seeing branches leaning out of the pavement boundary into the road, it's time to chop those huge branches. Take a look at ECP to the airport. You got huge canopies across the road (one to two lanes) and blocking out the road lights). I guess YOU NEED ONE TREE TO FALL ACROSS SOME BIG SHOT's CAR then they get the message.

Gintai_昇泰 said...

Hey I like this post. Very nice pics. Thought of using one or two of ur pics for my blog? Thks.

Victor said...

Hi Gintai,

Please go ahead and use the pictures for your blog.

Gintai_昇泰 said...

Thank you my fren. Most probably I'll just link my post to your blog. Working on it.

Gintai_昇泰 said...

Hi Victor,
Look out for my post tomor gintai.wordpress.com
I'll publish it tomor. Thks.