SINGAPORE, Aug 14 — The priority, when the Sky Tower in Sentosa had a system malfunction on Saturday night, was to evacuate the guests by the safest means possible, which was to lower the gondola, its operator said yesterday in response to media queries.
When the mechanical fault persisted, however, Sky Tower Pte Ltd activated the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), as part of the response plan when manual winching is not possible, said its director Alexander Melchers, 50.
That was around 90 minutes after the incident began at 5.35pm.
Thirty-nine riders were stranded in mid-air, close to 30 metres above ground, for more than four hours before the ride could be lowered and they could disembark.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has since issued a closure order to suspend the ride from operation. It will reopen once “the investigation is concluded and … approved by the BCA for safe operations”, said Melchers, adding that the process “may take a few days”.
The BCA was informed of the malfunction and the trapped passengers at around 7.30pm by the operator. BCA engineers then went on site to investigate the incident.
Before that, at 6.51pm, with troubleshooting well under way, the company’s emergency response team and Sentosa rangers were deployed.
Rangers are deployed across Sentosa round-the-clock via regular patrols to ensure safety and security, Sentosa Development Corporation security director Lee Cheow Hiang told TODAY.
Trained to be first responders in any emergency, they work with various tenants, such as the Sky Tower operator, as well as the police and SCDF “in ensuring the well-being of guests”, said Lee.
The Sky Tower ride, which was built in 2004 and manufactured by German company Kuss, was also suspended for nearly four weeks in 2010 after a misalignment of guiding wheels left 11 people stuck for about 45 minutes.
They were later rescued by staff who reached them via a central stairway inside the tower.
The operator used the time after the incident to “upgrade other parts”, said Melchers, who cautioned against drawing parallels between the two incidents.
“Until investigations are concluded, we can’t make any comparisons to the previous halt,” he said.
Guests who hold tickets to the ride, bought on or before Saturday, can get a full refund at any Sentosa ticketing counter or use it to visit other attractions, including the Merlion, one ride on the 4D AdventureLand or the skyride at Skyline Luge Sentosa. — TODAY