SINGAPORE – A man and his parents were electrocuted in 2020 in a case involving a water heater that had been installed in an unsafe manner, and on Friday (June 3), State Coroner Adam Nakhoda found the trio’s deaths to be a misadventure.
The tragedy that took place in the elderly couple’s HDB flat in Ho Ching Road in Jurong on Dec 10 that year claimed the lives of Mr Omar Abdul Manan, 80, his wife Asmah Bujang, 66, and their son Muhamad Ashikin Omar, 45.
On Friday, State Coroner Nakhoda noted that the model of the water heater in the case had been approved for use in Singapore.
Describing the case as a “truly tragic accident”, he stressed that such appliances should be properly installed according to the specifications of manufacturers.
State Coroner Nakhoda said Mr Omar, who was found in the bathroom, was electrocuted when he was taking a shower.
Madam Asmah suffered a similar fate after she rushed in to help him.
Mr Ashikin, who arrived at the flat later, was also electrocuted when he tried to help his parents.
Following the tragedy, the elderly couple’s daughter told investigators she did not know who had installed the water heater.
In an earlier proceeding, the court heard that a three-pin plug connected to an electrical socket had been used to supply power to the heater.
Senior associate engineer Goh Chin Fong from the Energy Market Authority testified in March that the heater should have been connected directly to a double-pole switch instead of a wall plug.
Mr Goh, who had given expert testimony, described a double-pole switch as one with an “on-off switch with an on-off light”.
When investigators disassembled the water heater’s three-pin plug, they found that the neutral and earth cables had fused together.
This caused the current to flow back to a heating tank in the water heater, energising a metallic hose connected to the tank.
Mr Goh said the cables in the three-pin plug could have fused together because of overloading.
A double-pole switch is safer as the cables are spaced further apart, minimising the risk of the cables fusing together.