On 20 April 2004, a temporary retaining wall of the tunnel at the MRT Circle Line near Nicoll Highway collapsed. The subsequent cave-in left a 30m deep ravine (the depth of the excavation) which the surrounding area and highway sank into. Thankfully most of the construction workers were having their tea break and a greater tragedy was averted.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force Disaster and Rescue Team (SCDF DART) searched for four days, persevering to recover bodies for return to their families. Indeed they would return three of the four missing workers to the surface.
The fourth was that of 40-year old Heng Yeow Peow, the Site Foreman at the Nicoll Highway tunnel. Eyewitness accounts report that he returned to the collapsing tunnel to rush his team of workers out to safety. He saved their lives and lost his. We remember him for his courage and love for his fellow man.
“We are how we treat each other when the day is done”
“To a stranger, to a friend, To give in such a way that has no end”
“We are how we treat each other and nothing more”
The Alternate Routes wrote and produced “Nothing More” for Newtown Kindness a kindness movement in memory of Charlotte Bacon, from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
- Heroes Ep 3, “Nicoll Highway”. Mediacorp Channel 5 [link]
- “Nicoll Highway Collapse,” Wikipedia. [link]
- “Nicoll Highway Collapse,” by Nureza Ahmad. Infopedia, ?2004. [link]
- “The Legacy of a Man of Honor and Courage,” by Steven Chan. Focus on Your Family, 13 Jun 2012 [link].
2004 reports of the incident in newspaper articles are mostly offline and only available onsite at NewspaperSG through the multimedia stations at NLB. Technical analysis about the braced excavation collapse and the Committee of Inquiry interim and final reports are available online.