SINGAPORE: Two families on holiday were caught by surprise when the ceiling of the driveway at Hilton Singapore fell on the vehicles they were in on Sunday.
A black car and a white taxi were caught under the debris. A luggage trolley and a few bags also appeared to be crushed.
Cab driver Ong Wee Hian, 60, said his passengers were an Indonesian family with two children. They were unloading luggage, and Mr Ong was closing the boot when the roof cracked and fell.
The family was fine but very stunned, he said.
The black car belonged to a Malaysian businessman, who declined to give his name. He was in the car with his wife and 5-month old son, he said.
They were departing, and he was checking a location on Google maps when the ceiling collapsed.
"It happened so fast, in 10 seconds. I just grabbed my baby and ran out of the car, and called to my wife to get to safety," he told The Straits Times.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call at about 2.55pm regarding people being injured at the hotel.
Four people, a man, two women and a child, were taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital, SCDF said. They were conscious.
Mr Peter Webster, Hilton regional general manager, said a doorman heard a sound at around 2.50pm. Shortly afterwards the ceiling, which is made of plasterboard with an aluminium frame, collapsed slowly.
"The doorman heard some strange sounds coming from above. He asked guests to move away. Then slowly the ceiling came down," Mr Webster said.
He said two people were sent to hospital for "shock and minor bumps". One was a passer-by and the other was a Hilton employee.
The probable cause of the accident was heavy rain, said Mr Webster, who added that the damage "looks a lot worse than it is".
"All the hotel guests are absolutely fine. We have secured the perimeter and are making sure guests enter and leave by the second exit," said Mr Webster.
Hilton will cover the damage to both vehicles, he said.
Inspectors from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) were investigating at the scene.
In a statement on Sunday night, the BCA said they were notified about the accident at 3.20pm, and engineers arrived at the hotel at 4pm.
"BCA was notified by the Police at approximately 3.20pm about an incident involving the collapse of a false ceiling at the driveway of Hilton Hotel. We were informed by the SCDF that four people were hurt from this incident," it said.
The Hilton's building structure is intact and not affected by the collapse of the false ceiling, BCA said.
BCA has directed the Hilton to carry out a further detailed investigation of the incident, and check all similar false ceilings at the other parts of the driveway, it said.
The hotel is to repair the collapsed ceiling and recommend "rectification measures", the statement said.
At around 5.30pm, the white vehicle was driven away, and workers began removing the debris from the driveway. By about 6pm, both cars had left the driveway.
The roof collapse at the Hilton is the latest in a string of incidents on Orchard Road this month.
On Saturday, water seepage due to heavy rain resulted in an outage in Orchard Central mall.
On Wednesday, a slab of concrete fell from a pedestrian bridge outside Orchard Plaza narrowly missing two passers-by.
Earlier this month, two Christmas decorations caught fire on two separate incidents along the road. - Straits Times/ANN