Floor tiles ‘explode’ at HDB flats across multiple locations in Singapore

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SINGAPORE: Residents of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats across multiple locations in Singapore have complained of “exploding floor tiles” in their respective homes over the weekend. 

Cases were reported in Punggol, Sengkang, Bukit Panjang, Woodlands, Hougang and Jurong West.

Mr Bobin Thomas, his wife and two children woke up to the sound of floor tiles in their dining room “exploding” one by one in their flat at Block 638A, Punggol Drive on Sunday (Jan 14) morning.

Mr Thomas told Channel NewsAsia that when he and his wife saw the tiles start bending inwards, they immediately grabbed their two-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy, and left the house.

“The tiles started bending inwards one by one (like there was) an invisible force. It was like something you see in the movies,” said Mr Thomas. 

“We called our children and got ourselves out of there,” added the 35-year-old IT engineer. 

The tiles snapped inwards by “an invisible force”. (Photos: John Choo) 

As the family tried to navigate their way out, Mr Thomas said the tiles they stepped on wobbled and sank slightly. 

“At the time, we thought that the building was about to collapse. It only became clear our unit was the only one affected when we saw that none of our neighbours were leaving,” he said. 

It was only when the family was safely in a friend’s unit at a nearby block did Mr Thomas, who is a tenant at the unit, called the owner of the flat to inform him of the situation. The owner later contacted the HDB. 

According to Mr Thomas, a contractor later visited the unit and covered the affected tiles with cardboard. 

Cardboard was later placed by contractors on top of the tiles. (Photo: John Choo) 

The family will stay in a nearby apartment temporarily while their HDB flat is being repaired. 

“It was just not possible for us to go back there. We have two kids and we don’t know what might happen if the tiles explode again,” he said. 

“CRACKLING SOUND” 

Meanwhile, Mr Zul Effandy, who lives at Block 185, Jelebu Road at Bukit Panjang, told Channel NewsAsia that he and his wife were watching television at about 8pm when he suddenly heard a “cracking sound” from underneath the carpet in the living room.

As the sound got louder, the pair jumped from their seats and backed away to safety, Mr Zul said. When the sound stopped, they pulled away the carpet to see that the tiles had “exploded”. 

The tiles popped up at this flat in Jelebu Road, Bukit Panjang. (Photo: Zul Effendy) 

“We are worried. I keep thinking it will happen again. I don’t think we will get a good night’s sleep tonight,” he added. 

Mr Zul said that this is the first time the floor tiles have cracked since he moved in in 2000.  

In another case, Mdm Ng Siew Hoon, a resident at Jurong West, said she was “scared” by what sounded like a “loud explosion” to her.

“Within five minutes, there was a loud explosion sound, like fireworks. Then all my floor (tiles) all cracked, from the door to the window. And the tiles in front of my toilet doors also. I was very scared and I called for help, called for my husband to come out and have a look,” she told Channel NewsAsia.

Channel NewsAsia has contacted HDB, Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council and Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council for comment.

Mr Tan Chim Hoon, adviser at Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association, said poor workmanship may be a possible cause of the cracks, and the recent chilly weather may be another reason.

“Now it’s very cold or very hot. And there’s a little bit of vibration. So this causes the tiles to have no place to expand. Because of this, the tiles all pop up,” he said.

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