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|Date||March 15–22, 1986|
|Duration||March 15, 1986|
|Former names||New Serangoon Hotel|
|Alternative names||Hotel New World (新世界酒店)|
|Destroyed||March 15, 1986|
|Client|| Industrial and Commercial Bank Limited |
Hotel New World
|Owner||Ng Khong Lim|
|Affiliation||Lian Yak Realty|
|Number of rooms||67|
|Number of restaurants||1|
The collapse of the Hotel New World (Chinese :新世界酒店倒塌事件; Malay : Runtuhnya Hotel New World; Tamil : நியூ வர்ல்டு சம்பவம்) occurred on 15 March 1986, and was Singapore's deadliest civil disaster since the Spyros disaster on 12 October 1978. The six-storey building situated at the junction of Serangoon Road and Owen Road rapidly collapsed, trapping 50 people beneath the rubble. Seventeen people were rescued, whereas 33 people were killed.
Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. A language of the Malays, it is spoken by 290 million people across the Strait of Malacca, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia and the eastern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and West Kalimantan in Borneo. It is also used as a trading language in the southern Philippines, including the southern parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the Sulu Archipelago, and the southern predominantly Muslim-inhabited municipalities of Bataraza and Balabac in Palawan.
Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of two countries: Sri Lanka and Singapore and official language of the Indian state Tamil Nadu. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.
Frequently referred to as Hotel New World, the building in question was actually the Lian Yak Building (Chinese :联益大厦), which was completed in 1971 and consisted of six stories and a basement garage. The Hotel New World, previously known as the New Serangoon Hotel until 1984, was the main tenant occupying the top three floors, and a branch of the Industrial & Commercial Bank (which merged with United Overseas Bank in 1987) took up the ground level. A nightclub, Universal Neptune Nite-Club and Restaurant, was situated on the second level of the building at the time of the collapse. The building had previously experienced a poisonous gas leak (caused by carbon monoxide) in some of the hotel rooms, first hitting the headlines on 30 August 1975, the day after the poisonous gas leak was reported.
Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the Han majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
United Overseas Bank Limited is a Singaporean multinational banking organisation headquartered in Singapore, with branches mostly found in most Southeast Asian countries. Founded in 1935 as United Chinese Bank (UCB) by Sarawak businessman Wee Kheng Chiang, the bank was set up together with a group of Chinese-born businessmen. The bank is the third largest bank in South East Asia by total assets.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. It is toxic to animals that use hemoglobin as an oxygen carrier when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal biological functions. In the atmosphere, it is spatially variable and short lived, having a role in the formation of ground-level ozone.
On 15 March 1986, the building rapidly disintegrated in less than a minute at about 11:25 am, leaving little time for anyone within it to make their escape. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion prior to the collapse, but the police ruled out the possibility of a bomb attack. A gas explosion was thought to be a possible cause.
The collapse was met with shock by many, including the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who was quoted as saying that "the collapse of such a building is unprecedented."
Lee Kuan Yew, commonly referred to by his initials LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. Lee is recognised as the nation's founding father, with the country described as transitioning from the "third world to first world in a single generation" under his leadership.
Immediately after the collapse, as many as 300 were feared trapped underneath the debris.Estimates dropped to 100 trapped or missing a day later, and then to 60, including 26 hotel staff and 16 bank staff unaccounted for. The figure was finally put at 33 when the official death toll was announced on 22 March 1986 after the end of the rescue effort. Amongst those killed, 23 were Singaporeans, and the other ten foreigners.
After the collapse, many passers-by began to try pulling out survivors. They were soon joined by the Singapore Fire Service (SFS), the Police Task Force of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). A nearby business, Eagle Piano Company, became a centre for the rescue operation.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force is the main agency in charge of the provision of emergency services in Singapore during peacetime and emergency.
The Police Tactical Unit (PTU) is a paramilitary specialist unit of the Singapore Police Force and comes under the direct command of the Special Operations Command. Based in Queenstown, it is the main anti-rioting and disaster-management unit of the police force. They are also called upon to handle cases of serious crime in progress, particularly cases involving firearms. From 2004, PTU officers also presented greater public prominence when they conducted patrols in public areas, such as at Orchard Road, Holland Village and Serangoon Gardens Estate, partly as a response to greater terrorism concerns.
The Singapore Police Force is the main government agency tasked with maintaining law and order in the island city-state. Formerly known as the Republic of Singapore Police, it has grown from an 11-man organisation to a 38,587 strong force. Singapore has been ranked consistently in the top five positions in the Global Competitiveness Report in terms of its reliability of police services.
As there were survivors buried in the rubble, the rescue was a delicate operation. Debris was carefully removed as power saws and drills cut through the rubble.
Sound detectors were used to locate survivors beneath the slabs by picking up faint moans and cries. In the first 12 hours, nine people were rescued. At one time, Lieutenant-Colonel Lim Meng Kin (SAF Chief Medical Officer), along with several other SAF medical officers and two doctors from the Health Ministry, took turns to crawl through narrow spaces inside the rubble in an effort to provide assistance to trapped survivors, giving glucose and saline drips to them.
Tunnelling experts from Britain, Ireland and Japan who were involved in nearby construction for the (Singapore) Mass Rapid Transit, including Thomas "Tommy" Gallagher, Thomas Mulleary, Norman Duke, Patrick "PJ" Gallagher, Michael Prendergast, Michael "Mickey" Scott, and Tan Jin Thong, offered to assist.They became concerned that the use of heavy machinery would collapse the rubble onto those trapped. Their voluntary efforts, digging 4 tunnels under the rubble, resulted in the rescue of another eight survivors. The tunnelling experts were later honoured by the Singapore government for their efforts. Thomas Mulleary was also nominated for an O.B.E for his rescue work but refused the prestigious honour when the rest of the rescue squad was not included.
The last survivor, 30-year-old Chua Kim Choo, was rescued on 18 March 1986, having survived after hiding beneath a table.
Following the six-day rescue operation in 21 March, 17 people were rescued, but 33 people lost their lives.
Many potential causes of the accident were investigated. Surviving sections of concrete were tested to ensure they were built to proper construction standards and it was found that they were. The construction work of the underground railway – built by tunnellers who had assisted in the rescue – was investigated, even though the excavations were more than 100 yards from the collapsed building. It was found they had no effect on the building's stability.
Also investigated were the various additions made to the building after its initial construction. Air conditioning systems had been constructed on the roof of the building, the bank had added a large safe, and ceramic tiles had been fixed to the building's exterior, all adding considerably to the building's weight. It was found that the weight of these additions was inconsequential.
However, this line of investigation into weight led to the discovery that the original structural engineer had made a serious error in calculating the building's structural load. The structural engineer had calculated the building's live load (the weight of the building's potential inhabitants, furniture, fixtures, and fittings) but the building's dead load (the weight of the building itself) was completely omitted from the calculation. This meant that the building as constructed could not support its own weight. Collapsing was only a matter of time. After three different supporting columns failed in the days before the disaster, the other columns—which took on the added weight no longer supported by the failed columns—could not support the building.
According to Channel News Asia, Lian Yak Building was designed by an unqualified draftsman instead of a professional structural engineer. An investigator found that he had over-estimated the dead weight which the columns and walls could support. The draftsman claimed that the building owner Ng Khong Lim, who eventually died in the collapse incident, had appointed him to design Lian Yak Building but Ng directed that building work. The investigator also found that Ng requested to use inferior materials to build Lian Yak Building in order to reduce the cost.
On 27 April 1986, the Government of Singapore honoured five individuals for their assistance in rescue efforts, including three from Ireland, one from Britain, and a local.A dinner was also hosted by the Singapore government on 29 April 1986 for SMRT Corporation staff involved in the rescue effort, with the then Minister of Communications and Information, Yeo Ning Hong, as the Guest-of-Honour.
Following this disaster, buildings built in the 1970s were checked for structural faults, and some of them were declared structurally unsound and had to be evacuated, including the main block of Hwa Chong Junior College and Catholic High School campus at Queen Street.The government also introduced tighter regulations on building construction; since 1989, all structural designs are required to be counter-checked by Accredited Checkers. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) underwent a significant upgrade, in terms of training and equipment, to improve its readiness in performing complex rescue operations.
Five years after the collapse, construction work commenced on the site for a new seven-storey hotel on 28 March 1991. The Fortuna Hotel opened with 85 rooms in 1994.
In July 1986, singer-songwriter Kelvin Tan contributed to BigO magazine's Nothing on the Radio cassette the song "Seen the End", after spending two nights at the former Hotel New World site.
In 1990, the disaster was re-enacted in the Chinese-language television series Finishing Line (出人头地), which was aired on SBC 8 (now MediaCorp Channel 8).
On 25 September 2003, the disaster was featured in the first episode of the second season of the television series True Courage, which was broadcast on MediaCorp TV Channel 5 (now MediaCorp Channel 5). A Chinese-language version of the series, titled True Courage (逆境勇者), was also on aired on MediaCorp TV Channel 8 (now MediaCorp Channel 8).
On 27 September 2005, Seconds From Disaster portrayed the disaster in the episode "Hotel Collapse Singapore". Instead of the actual site, the program used an image of the area around 88 Syed Alwi Road (at the corner of Kampon Kapor Road) as the basis for a computer-generated reconstruction of the building and its collapse. The episode was retelecast in Singapore on 16 September 2007 via StarHub TV.
In February 2015, Days of Disasters also portrayed the disaster in the episode "Hotel New World Collapse".It was also featured in the drama The Journey: Our Homeland .
The year 1986 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.
The Hyatt Regency walkway collapse took place at the Hyatt Regency Kansas City hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 17, 1981. Two walkways, one directly above the other, collapsed onto a tea dance being held in the hotel's lobby. The falling walkways killed 114 and injured 216. It was the deadliest structural collapse in U.S. history until the collapse of the World Trade Center towers 20 years later.
The 1985 Mexico City earthquake struck in the early morning of 19 September at 07:17:50 (CST) with a moment magnitude of 8.0 and a Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). The event caused serious damage to the Greater Mexico City area and the deaths of at least 5,000 people. The sequence of events included a foreshock of magnitude 5.2 that occurred the prior May, the main shock on 19 September, and two large aftershocks. The first of these occurred on 20 September with a magnitude of 7.5 and the second occurred seven months later on 30 April 1986 with a magnitude of 7.0. They were located off the coast along the Middle America Trench, more than 350 kilometres (220 mi) away, but the city suffered major damage due to its large magnitude and the ancient lake bed that Mexico City sits on. The event caused between three and four billion USD in damage as 412 buildings collapsed and another 3,124 were seriously damaged in the city.
At approximately 15:00 UTC on Monday 2 January 2006, in the town of Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria, Germany, near the Austrian border, the roof of a 1970s-built ice rink collapsed, possibly under the weight of heavy snowfall, trapping 50 people underneath the rubble.
On 28 January 2006, the roof of one of the buildings at the Katowice International Fair collapsed in Chorzów / Katowice, Poland.
The Versailles wedding hall, located in Talpiot, Jerusalem, Israel, was the site of the most lethal civil disaster in Israel's history. At 22:43 on May 24, 2001, during the wedding of Keren and Asaf Dror, a large portion of the third floor of the four-story building collapsed. As a result, 23 people fell to their deaths through two stories, including the groom's 80-year-old grandfather and his three-year-old second cousin, the youngest victim. Another 380 were injured, including the bride who suffered serious pelvic injuries that required surgery. Asaf, who escaped serious injury, carried her in his arms from the rubble.
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The 120 Squadron "Kestrel" is a helicopter squadron of the Republic of Singapore Air Force based at Sembawang Air Base. First formed in 1969, it is the first and oldest RSAF operational squadron in service. The squadron goes by the motto of "Strive To Achieve". Since 2006, it operates the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter and has participated in Singapore's National Day Parade together with 127 Squadron CH-47SD Chinook for the traditional National Flag Fly Pass.
There were two near simultaneous bombings in Algiers which occurred on 11 December 2007 when two car bombs exploded 10 minutes apart starting at around 9:30 a.m. local time, in the Algerian capital Algiers. The al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attacks, stating that it was "another successful conquest […] carried out by the Knights of the Faith with their blood in defense of the wounded nation of Islam." These attacks constitute another act of violence in the ongoing Islamic insurgency, a continuation of the Algerian Civil War that has claimed 200,000 lives.
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The September 2009 Sumatra earthquake occurred on September 30 off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia with a moment magnitude of 7.6 at 17:16:10 local time. The epicenter was 45 kilometres (28 mi) west-northwest of Padang, Sumatra, and 220 kilometres (140 mi) southwest of Pekanbaru, Sumatra. Government and authorities confirmed 1,115 dead, 1,214 severely injured and 1,688 slightly injured. The most deaths occurred in the areas of Padang Pariaman (675), Padang (313), Agam (80) and Pariaman (37). In addition, around 135,000 houses were severely damaged, 65,000 houses were moderately damaged and 79,000 houses were slightly damaged. An estimated 250,000 families have been affected by the earthquake through the total or partial loss of their homes and livelihoods.
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