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  Straits Times 27 Jul 07
Misadventure: 2 killed by falling tree, branch
Bad weather to blame for woman hit by toppling tree, man struck by falling branch
By Elena Chong

Today Online 27 Jul 07
NParks plans new measures to prevent mishaps
Leong Wee Keat

New preventive measures are being taken by the National Parks Board (NParks) following the deaths of two people who were killed by a falling tree and a falling branch in May, a coroner's inquiry was told yesterday.

State Coroner Ronald Gwee, who recorded misadventure verdicts in the deaths of Madam Ho Siew Lan and Mr Nguyen Ngoc Quang, expressed confidence that the new measures would help prevent future accidents.

Their deaths, the court held, were attributable to "forces of nature".

At Bukit Batok Nature Park, where Mdm Ho, 42, was killed by a falling tree on May 15, NParks will install weather alert signs so that park users can call the Meteorological Services for the latest weather reports.

Tree Top Walk, at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, where Mr Nguyen, 25, was hit by a falling branch, will be closed to visitors in the event of lightning and thunderstorms.

NParks will also build rain shelters with lightning protection along the trail. These shelters are expected to be ready by the end of this financial year.

The court heard that Mdm Ho had decided not to continue with her walk after the wind began blowing strongly, and a drizzle started, on the day of the incident. She died from multiple injuries after a 30-m-tall tree fell on her.

Investigations revealed that the fallen tree's roots and trunks were healthy but that the ground was wet due to heavy rain earlier.

Two weeks later, Mr Nguyen, a Singapore permanent resident from Vietnam, died from head injuries after a falling tree branch hit him as he was trekking with friends.

Straits Times 27 Jul 07
Misadventure: 2 killed by falling tree, branch
Bad weather to blame for woman hit by toppling tree, man struck by falling branch
By Elena Chong

NO ONE is to blame for the recent accidental deaths of two people who were struck by a tree and a branch in nature reserves earlier this year. In both cases, conditions were similar - heavy rains coupled with gusty winds.

Separate coroner's inquiries into the deaths of dental assistant Ho Siew Lan, 42, and software engineer Nguyen Ngoc Quang, 25, a permanent resident here, were heard yesterday.

In recording a verdict of misadventure in both cases, State Coroner Ronald Gwee said the incidents were the result of a combination of forces of nature.

He noted that after the May 15 incident involving Madam Ho, the National Parks Board had taken further action to prevent future occurrences.

'I am satisfied that the steps taken by the National Parks Board after the incident will help to minimise the chances of this occurring in the future,'' he said.

Early that morning, the mother of two was out on her usual morning walk at Bukit Batok Nature Park when the sky turned dark. At the park entrance at Bukit Batok East Avenue 3, Madam Ho met Madam Ting Kim Hong, 46, who was on her way out. Later, the two met again inside the park and decided to call off their walk when it started pouring and the winds grew stronger.

Senior Station Inspector Tan Kah Kiat from Jurong Police Division said in his investigation report that the two women then bumped into Madam Leong Lai Meng, 48, along a footpath.

At that moment, Madam Leong saw a huge tree falling towards her, while Madam Ting heard cracking sounds. Before they could react, the tree fell and pinned the trio down.

Senior Station Insp Tan said Madam Leong, who had minor injuries, crawled out and sought help from a park user. Meanwhile, Madam Ting, who had been lying motionless with Madam Ho, regained consciousness and limped out of the park. The two were treated as outpatients. Madam Ho was later pronounced dead by a paramedic officer.

According to a meteorological report, moderate to very heavy showers with thunder and gusty winds up to 70kmh had occurred at the time.

Since then, NParks has intensified tree inspection in Bukit Batok Nature Park, provided a weather alert link on its website, and installed weather alert signage at strategic locations.

In the other case, Mr Quang was trekking with his younger brother and three friends on the Petaling Trail in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve when a 1.58m-long tree branch fell on him on May 31.

It had been drizzling with strong winds when the five arrived at the TreeTop Walk - a 250m-long suspension bridge linking the two highest points in the area. It was raining heavily when Mr Quang's brother, who was walking behind, saw the branch fall and hit his sibling. Mr Quang died at the scene of a head injury.

The NParks management has since decided to close the TreeTop Walk in the event of lightning and thunderstorms. Weather signage to warn visitors not to continue trekking during bad weather has been installed and rain shelters with lightning protection at strategic locations along the trail will be built.

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