Two dead in accident at Bugis Downtown Line MRT construction site

UPDATE at 10:30am, 19 July: The nine SCDF DART officers have been discharged from SGH after being treated for chemical burns, according to the SCDF.

Two construction workers died after an underground scaffolding collapsed at the construction site for the Downtown Line at the junction of Victoria Street and Rochor Road.


The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) found both bodies one metre apart from each other, submerged in wet cement and pinned under planks of wood and scaffolding.

The complexity of the seven-hour operation meant SCDF personnel had to not only keep pumping water through a hose into the tunnel to keep the cement wet as they extricated the bodies, but also involved sawing through wooden planks.

44 personnel, including members from the elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART), were involved in the search and extrication operation.

Another eight workers suffered minor injuries and were sent to Raffles Hospital before the SCDF arrived. Five have since been discharged.

Another nine SCDF personnel also sustained chemical burns on lower arms despite wearing protective gear and were sent to SGH after the operation. They are now in stable condition, according to an SCDF spokesperson.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the LTA confirmed that the two deceased workers were from the People's Republic of China.

"We will cooperate with the Ministry of Manpower in their investigation into the cause of the accident," the statement said. "We will also exercise extra vigilance to prevent a similar occurrence."

The LTA has since suspended all construction work at all other downtown lines and engineers have been told to check the scaffolding at all other sites before resuming work.

The incident is the latest in a string of mishaps to befall Singapore's rail transport network.

Earlier this week, the SMRT was fined S$2 million for the twin December breakdowns by the LTA. The transport regulator itself has come under fire after Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew admitted in Parliament
that it failed to ensure SMRT's responsibilities were kept in check.

It's also the worst construction accident in Singapore since the Nicoll Highway collapse in 2004 which killed four people.

Turning to the latest incident, t
he LTA said in a statement that at about 650am, the temporary scaffolding used for the construction for the new Downtown Line (DTL) Bugis Station subway link roof slab gave way.

The scaffolding structure was about four metres high and was being used to construct the tunnel ceiling linking the old and new Bugis stations.

In a
separate statement, the Ministry of Manpower said the accident occurred when workers were pouring concrete into the formwork when the structure supporting the formwork collapsed.

The accident happened about 4 metres beneath the surface and was located between the new and old sections of Bugis MRT station, which was part of the project to form an underground linkway between the two.

The project is a joint venture between Soletanche-Bachy and Koh Brothers.

The Downtown Line (DTL) will be the fifth Mass Rapid Transit line in Singapore.

It is due to be opened in three stages, in 2013, 2015 and 2017 respectively.

When fully complete, the line will be about 42-km long with 34 stations.

It's understood work on Downtown Line 1 (DTL 1), which runs through busy corridors like Bugis and Chinatown is almost complete.

DTL 1, which is due for completion next year, is a loop that will connect to DTL 3, which runs to eastern towns like Bedok and Tampines.

The DTL will be operated by SBS Transit.