Cracked ceilings and shattered glass: Slight damage after WWII bomb detonation
Following the detonation of a 100kg World War II bomb on Tuesday, Mr Wong Kwet Phin went straight home to inspect his fish tank, a gift from his late brother, and was relieved to find it was still intact, and the fish inside all safe.
The 70-year-old former interpreter, who lives in Block 154 Gangsa Road, had earlier told The Straits Times that the tank was a memory of his brother and he had been concerned about its safety during the detonation.
More than 4,000 residents within a 200m radius of the construction site where the unexploded bomb had been found were evacuated while it was detonated by the Singapore Armed Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.
Residents were told it was safe to go home at about 5pm on Tuesday, some nine hours after they had left the area.
Some went back to find slight damage to their buildings, despite the fact that a protective wall had been built around the bomb using sandbags and concrete blocks to minimise the impact of the blast.
Mr Rafael Ansey, a resident at Hazel Park condominium, said he was told by the condo management that a window at the lobby of a block had cracked.
The 35-year-old software engineer added that some of his neighbours in homes that faced the detonation site had found broken lightbulbs in their homes.
In pictures sent to ST by residents, there were also cracks in the ceiling of lift lobbies, and some parts had fallen off.
Hazel Park declined to comment on the damage when contacted by ST.
The aerial bomb was successfully disposed of by the SAF Explosive Ordnance Disposal team at 1.45pm, the police said in a Facebook post.
A blast from the first detonation could be heard from Block 153 Gangsa Road at around 12.30pm. The blast from the second detonation was heard at Senja-Cashew Community Club, about 2km away.
The police also said the Building and Construction Authority, national water agency PUB, grid operator SP Group and the Housing Board conducted assessments of the construction site after the detonation.
Nearby drains and pipelines, and evacuated buildings and roads were found to be structurally safe, and residents were allowed to return home.
Ms Florence Lee, 62, found dust on the floor of her sixth-floor flat in Block 154 and outside it, most likely because she had left her windows slightly open, as instructed, but no other damage.
Another resident of Block 154, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Kwok, was giving out orange, pandan and banana cake slices to her neighbours.
“Because we’re all quite close, I thought this would be a good opportunity to just buy some cakes for the neighbours after the day we had today,” she said.
Some in the evacuation zone decided they might as well take the day off.
Ms Jolene Choo, 22, a student living in Hazel Park Terrace, and her boyfriend went to Johor Bahru for the day.
“My family and I did not expect any damage, and were well assured by the authorities that a huge explosion was not likely to happen,” she said.
An Italian citizen who has lived at Hazel Park Terrace for about 12 years with her husband and 17-year-old daughter said her family was unconcerned by the event.
“We weren’t worried about the detonation or when they found the relic. It’s common in Europe and such relics are still around,” said the 50-year-old housewife.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, the Singapore Army said that the bomb had to be disposed of on-site because its mechanism and metal components were expected to have become unstable after decades of deterioration, and moving the bomb would have triggered an explosion.
More than 530 police officers and 45 people from the SAF were involved in the disposal operation.
Tuesday’s bomb disposal, however, is not the largest war relic that Mindef has handled.
In 2016, a 227kg unexploded aerial bomb was disposed of by the army in Pulau Senang.
Other ammunition disposed of has included projectiles and grenades.
A resident of Hazel Park, Mr Goh Seow Heong, 60, said he had lived in the condo for 16 years and never thought that a piece of history existed so close to him.
“This is a timely reminder that peace is not to be taken for granted,” he added.
How the Upper Bukit Timah bomb was disposed of
A 100kg aerial bomb is found during excavation works at the construction site of the upcoming The Myst condominium in Upper Bukit Timah Road. The police are informed. The bomb is assessed as unsafe to be moved to another location and has to be disposed of on-site.
More than 4,000 people in Bukit Panjang and Upper Bukit Timah who are within a 200m radius of the bomb are told to leave their homes and premises on Sept 26, when a specialist team will conduct a controlled detonation of the bomb.
Residents, shop owners and other stakeholders in the area prepare for the impending detonation. Soldiers dig a pit and build a protective shelter around the bomb to minimise the impact from the blast.
As a precaution, a Shell service station nearby empties its underground tanks of fuel and closes temporarily. The station will reopen on Sept 28.
6am: Senja-Cashew Community Club opens to shelter residents until the operation is completed.
8am: Residents are required to leave the area.
11am: The police put up a 200m cordon around the bomb and close the roads in the area. Eleven bus services skip several stops.
12.30pm: The Downtown Line stops temporarily for the controlled disposal of the war relic. The Singapore Armed Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal team proceeds with the first of two detonations.
1.45pm: The war relic is successfully disposed of after a second detonation. The Building and Construction Authority, national water agency PUB, SP Group, the Housing Board and the Land Transport Authority inspect the construction site, nearby drains and pipelines, as well as the evacuated buildings afterwards for any damage as a result of the explosion. Nanyang Technological University mechanical and aerospace engineering associate professor Daniel New said hairline fractures in structures near the blast can still occur even with safety precautions.
5.10pm: The authorities assess that infrastructure nearby is structurally safe. Residents are allowed to return to their homes.
6pm: Some residents discover damage like shattered glass and a damaged false ceiling in common spaces near the detonation site.
- Additional reporting by Ang Qing