Close shave for man as concrete slab crashes on bed
Concrete slab, bricks fall into Geylang home due to neighbouring construction project, missing elderly couple
An elderly man had a close shave with death when a huge slab of concrete crashed down on his bed moments after he got up.
He suffered a cut and bruising as the slab grazed his right upper arm.
What was supposed to have been an afternoon lazing at home for Mr Geebian Lye, 69, and his wife last Thursday, turned into a traumatic near-death experience.
The couple were in their upstairs bedroom when they heard strange clicking sounds from the ceiling of their double-storey house at 31, Geylang Lorong 32.
The interior design company director told The New Paper yesterday: "My wife, who was sitting on a chair, said she was getting worried about the sounds but I told her it was nothing, just construction from the condo next door.
"Next thing I knew, dust from the ceiling started falling and it was then we felt something was very wrong."
TNP INFOGRAPHIC: BILLY KER
The couple decided to get out of the room immediately. Mr Lye's wife, who is in her 60s, dashed out. But Mr Lye, who was lying on the bed, was less fortunate.
"I turned to my side to get off the bed and just as I did so, the ceiling came crashing down, along with slabs of brick and concrete," he said.
"A large slab landed in the middle of my bed where I had been a split second earlier and nicked me on my arm.
"My wife ran out of the house screaming. I was stunned. It was a miracle that I survived."
The house shook as the slabs of brick and concrete crashed down into two of the upstairs rooms, leaving them in ruins.
Once the dust had settled, Mr Lye called the authorities. A Building and Construction Authority (BCA) spokesman said they were notified of the incident at about 5.45pm and sent their engineers to check it that evening.
"Concreting works for a segment of reinforced concrete wall abutting the brick party wall of the two-storey house were being carried out when a localised portion of that brick wall gave way," said the spokesman.
"As a result, some wet concrete and brick pieces fell through the second-storey plasterboard ceiling and into the bedrooms of the house."
BCA has revoked the permit for construction works at the condominium next door. It also ordered the project parties to carry a detailed investigation into the incident.
"While the structural integrity of the house is not affected, its two rooms where the concrete had fallen into have been vacated and cordoned off. The roof was also propped up as an added precaution," the spokesman added.
"The two affected rooms can be occupied only when reinstatement works have been completed and certified safe by the professional engineer for the project."
The third storey of the condominium next to Mr Lye's house was under construction when the incident happened.
A construction supervisor from ABM Construction, which is building the condominium, told TNP that what happened was an accident.
Wanting to be known only as Mr Zhang, he said: "It's an accident and it's our fault. But it's a small issue Mr Lye has blown up.
"No one was badly injured and we already paid him a sum of money. It's not good for us if he keeps complaining about it."
Mr Lye said he intends to settle the matter amicably with the company, but some of the damaged things can't be bought again.
"They have promised to fix the ceiling, flooring, partition and wiring," he said. "But the rest of the things in the room, priceless things with sentimental value, I can never get back."
When TNP visited the house on Tuesday, a ceiling fan hung precariously from whatever remained of the ceiling. Cupboards and a wardrobe were damaged beyond repair.
Dust blanketed the floors of the two damaged rooms, but the slabs of concrete had been chiselled into smaller pieces and removed.
Mr Lye showed TNP oil paintings, done by his late father, which had been damaged by cement and dust.
"There are about a dozen paintings of about 50 to 60 years old that are now ruined," he said.
"My TV, our original wedding photos and family portraits are all gone too."
Mr Lye said his 19-year-old son, who was home at the time, chose to stay with a friend for the night because he was afraid the house might collapse.
"We're all very upset and traumatised, especially my wife," said Mr Lye.
"We have become paranoid whenever we hear sounds from the ceiling. When we lie down, the incident keeps replaying in our heads."
I turned to my side to get off the bed and just as I did so, the ceiling came crashing down along with slabs of brick and concrete.
- Mr Geebian Lye
Get The New Paper on your phone with the free TNP app. Download from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store now