10 Facts About the Unfortunate Botanic Gardens Accident You’ve Got to Know


The past weekend, in the Botanic Gardens, a tree fell. Unfortunately, there were 5 casualties, as the park was filled with people there for the Canada 150 events scheduled at the park for the two days. Needless to say, there were people around to hear it fall.

Here are 10 quick facts to keep you up to date on the latest developments.

1. Details of the Incident

The large, 40m tall Tembusu tree fell on Saturday, 11 February 2017. The tree was already there long before the Gardens were, and was at a ripe old age of 270 as of the fall. At approximately 4.25pm, before one of the scheduled Canada 150 events near the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, the tree uprooted itself and fell upon the spectators.

2. Killed 1 injured 4

As the tree fell, five unfortunate souls were unable to escape, and one of them, a woman, was killed by the falling tree. The other four were injured, and were admitted to the National University Hospital. As of now, the injured have been discharged.

3. Woman Killed Worked for MasterCard

The woman who was killed had been identified as Ms Radhika Angara, 38. She was an Indian national, and had moved to Singapore in January 2013 when she joined the global social and mobile payment platform, Fastacash as its chief marketing and strategy officer. Before that, she was vice-president of marketing at Myntra Designs in Bangalore, India.

Last year, she left Fastacash and joined MasterCard as its regional digital marketing head for Asia Pacific.

She had studied at the University of Pennsylvania and Ithaca College in the US, and had also held positions at France-based company Ingenico and international food company General Mills.

4. Woman’s Family Injured As Well

Of the remaining four injured, three of which were Ms Radhika’s family members. Her French husband, Mr Jerome Rouch-Sirech, 39, and their two children, one-year-old twins, were also injured by the fall. Mr Rouch-Sirech heads retail at Puma South East Asia, and the family is believed to live in a three-room condominium in central Singapore.

Apart from her family, another park-goer was injured as well, a 26-year-old female Singaporean, Ms Tay Pei Lei.

All injured were discharged as of now.

5. Park-goers Rushed to Help

Videos were shared on social media, on how park-goers rushed to help those trapped by the fallen tree during the incident.

This was laudable behaviour, and reflected well on Singaporeans. However, everyone’s safety remains a priority, and once the SCDF arrived, the area was quickly cordoned off to facilitate the rescue work.

6. Safety Inspections

The Tembusu tree that fell was a heritage tree and was inspected twice a year, more than other trees within the Gardens. The tree was last inspected in September 2016, and was found to be healthy.

The inspection includes checks on the root collar, anchoring roots, crown, trunk and signs of soil movement. As safety precautions, the tree was also outfitted with a lightning conductor, and was fenced off to prevent compaction of its root zone by park-goers.

In other words, the Gardens have been doing their due diligence in safety inspections.


7. Increased Inspections Now

In response to this tragedy, NParks has increased the frequency of inspections of trees along expressways and major roads, and has taken steps to improve the general health of the trees. This includes pruning prior to periods of more severe weather conditions.

They are also developing modelling techniques to better understand the structural behaviour of trees under different environmental conditions like rain, wind and soil.

The Gardens were also immediately inspected again after the incident, and was found to be safe.

8. Investigations Ongoing

As of now, investigations are still ongoing for the cause of the incident. Mr Lahiru, who was a senior arborist at the Gardens, responded to speculations on the reasons, which included speculation that the tree had fallen because it didn’t have enough space for its roots. Mr Lahiru urged the public to refrain from speculations, and await the results of the investigations.

If the tree had any obvious symptoms of health issues, or that it really had restricted rooting, the tree would have fallen long ago.


9. Events Cancelled

In light of the incident, the area where the tree was, Palm Valley, remains closed, and all events scheduled in the area had been cancelled. This included concerts and performances scheduled for the Canada 150 event.

The High Commission of Canada in Singapore expressed sympathy for the friends and families of the injured in response.

10. Past Incidents

This was not the first time trees fell in Singapore, although it was the first time someone was killed by a fallen tree. Just last month, January 2017, a large yellow flame tree fell on some parked cars on Amoy Street. No injuries were reported, and the tree may have fallen due to a combination of strong winds and heavy rain.

Image: straitstimes.com

Late last year, December 2016, a tree fell across Aljunied Road, crushing a van and falling on another car as well.

In light of the recent spate of heavy rain and inclement weather, we should all pay more attention to our surroundings, so as to avoid any unfortunate incidents happening again. Our sincere condolences to the friends and families of the casualties as well.

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Featured Image: straitstimes.com


This article was first published on Goodyfeed.com

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