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Not a drill: 20 evacuated after foul and 'smoky' smell discovered in Sembawang building

Cleaners discovered a strange, pungent smell emanating from the rubbish compactor room in the Nordcom II building in Sembawang.

Facebook/Singapore Civil Defence Force

A calm Saturday morning was quickly disrupted after strange smells were reported in a Sembawang building.

A foul smell emanating from a rubbish compactor room at Nordcom II in Gambas Crescent this morning (May 28) resulted in about 20 people being evacuated from the surrounding area, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) confirmed in a Facebook post. 

Speaking to AsiaOne, a cleaner from RS Facilities Services, who wanted to be identified only by his surname, Tok, said that he was hit by a strong, foul and 'smoky' smell when he opened up the rubbish compactor room on the ground floor of the premises

Tok and his colleague immediately evacuated and called 995.

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SCDF said it was alerted at about 7.15am. Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly and discovered the presence of chlorine gas after utilising chemical detectors. 

They immediately deployed a water jet to dilute the vapours and blower fans to contain the gas. 

According to the SCDF, air concentration outside the rubbish compactor room was at a safe level. As a precautionary measure, however, around 20 people were evacuated from the surrounding area.

A member of Zion Church on the tenth floor of the building, who wanted to be known only as Faith, told AsiaOne that she had been in the building for a dawn service at 6am, followed by a Tamil programme for children at 8am. 

She said she smelled something strange, but when warnings were broadcasted on the PA system, she initially believed it to be a drill. 

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Once she understood the threat to be real, she immediately evacuated via the lift in the building, she added.

Another woman in her thirties, who identified herself as Tan, said that she was with her four-year-old child at a nearby playground when they saw the emergency vehicles gathering.

She also admitted that she believed the incident to be an exercise or drill until she received an SMS alert.

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READ ALSO: Fire with 'electrical origin' breaks out at Jalan Bukit Merah flat, 35 people evacuated

khooyihang@asiaone.com

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