Jurong blasts claim young mum's life
ONE person died and seven others were injured in a fire at a gas manufacturing company in the Jurong industrial area yesterday.
Several explosions were heard as a fire engulfed a ground floor laboratory at the premises of Leeden National Oxygen, which supplies gas to shipyards and industrial firms.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said that it was alerted to a fire at 21 Tanjong Kling Road at 9.30am yesterday, and dispatched four fire engines, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes, eight support vehicles and four ambulances.
They deployed four water jets and contained the fire within the 35 sq m lab, which is as big as a studio apartment, preventing it from spreading to the nearby flammable cylinders storage area.
A 30-year-old chemist, a mother of a six-month-old girl who had returned to work just a week ago from maternity leave, died at the scene. She had only recently become a Singapore citizen.
Of the injured, five were taken to National University Hospital (NUH), and two to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH).
Both patients at NTFGH, male Singaporeans aged 24 and 45, were discharged yesterday. One patient was discharged from NUH, while four remain warded.
Ansel Tan, 32, a corporate planning manager at the company, said the victims are seven Singaporeans and one Malaysian, ranging in ages from 24 to 57.
Four of the victims, including the woman, were working in the lab at the time of the fire. The rest were from Leeden's in-house emergency response team, which sprang into action before the SCDF arrived.
Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, who visited the victims at NUH yesterday, said: "We are going to conduct a very thorough investigation to find out the cause of this accident, draw lessons from it and take necessary precautions, if need be, new measures, to prevent this from happening again."
The affected lab in Leeden National Oxygen has also been ordered to stop work or production.
Steven Tham, 64, Leeden National Oxygen's chief executive, said he heard two or three explosions at around 9.20am, after the fire had started. He said the Company Emergency Response Team responded immediately, and about 150 workers were evacuated from the 1.6ha facility.
He said: "We are very sad to hear about (the deceased) and also those who are injured. The company will do whatever we can to make sure that they are well taken care of."
Work in the lab includes testing and analysis of gases such as calibration gases, some of which are flammable, he added.
The SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire.