The two trees that fell in Sembawang Park on Thursday night (20 December) were assessed to be healthy at their last inspection in May 2017 and might have fallen due to heavy winds, said National Parks Board (NParks)’s group director Chuah Hock Seong.
“There was an intense thunderstorm with gusty winds in Sembawang Park at the time of the incident. The two trees appear to have succumbed to heavy winds based on the direction of falls and size of the two uprooted trees,” said Chuah in a statement on Friday (21 December).
While the area affected by the incident in Sembawang Park is cordoned off to facilitate tree clearance works, the rest of the park remains open to visitors.
The annual number of tree incidents has fallen by about 85 per cent from 3,000 in 2001 to about 400 as of December, despite more intensive rain and stormy weather, according to Chuah. These incidents mostly involved snapped branches.
“The frequency of inspection and pruning varies according to factors such as location, species, age, and the condition of the trees. It ranges between 12 and 24 months with higher frequency in some localities and for some trees. This is more stringent than the recommendations by the International Society of Arboriculture,” added Chuah.
Two mature trees, a tabebuia rosea and an erythrophleum suaveolens, were uprooted in Sembawang Park at about 5.30pm. Both ranged in height from 18-21 metres and were more than 3 metres wide.
The erythrophleum suaveolens had fallen on a pavilion in the park where 14 people were gathered for a celebration. They were later conveyed to Khoo Teck Puat hospital by Singapore Civil Defence Forces’ ambulances.
The 14 people who were conveyed to hospital were staff of train operator SMRT, according to media reports.
All casualties were in “stable condition”, Chuah said in a statement last night.