SINGAPORE – What was supposed to be an enjoyable Sunday dinner turned into a distressing experience for a family after they got stuck in a lift for more than three hours.
A 74-year-old man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chia, was in a lift at 6.30pm in UOB Plaza 1 in Raffles Place with his wife and daughter to head to the Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurant on the 60th floor, when they felt a sudden jolt. The lift stopped at the fourth floor, before making a quick descent to the second.
He rang the alarm bell in the lift repeatedly to get help while his wife tried to calm down their 14-year-old daughter.
When there was no response, the retired property developer called the phone number listed in the lift and was told a mechanic was on the way.
The family’s relief was short-lived as they were told 20 minutes later that the mechanic did not know how to tackle the problem.
Mr Chia said: “We were just stuck there, helpless, while waiting for another mechanic to try his luck.”
The lights were still working in the lift but air-conditioning was cut off. Mr Chia called the building office to get updates and was told that another mechanic came but could not find a fix.
At 7.30pm, Mr Chia called the police.
Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers arrived a few minutes later and attempted to open a side door to the lift, but failed. Mr Chia was told that they would open a hatch on top of the lift for the family to climb out.
Mr Chia said: “It was dark on top of the lift, and crossing over to the other lift was scary. I was worried about my daughter, and I wondered what it would have been like if a family with young children was stuck in this situation instead.”
The SCDF officers helped them to get across and enter the other lift through its hatch.
After 3.5 hours, the family was finally freed at 10pm. Mr Chia said the building manager came over to apologise about the incident. An ambulance was also at the scene.
Although the eatery was closed by then, the restaurant manager who had heard about what happened invited the family in for a light meal, and they had some soup.
Mr Chia said his family had trouble sleeping that night. “We tried to laugh it off in a way, but whenever I closed my eyes, I would be reminded of how dark it was while we were crossing over to the other lift. With the way we were feeling, I don’t think we could have lasted another hour in there,” he added.
He said his daughter, who is in Secondary 1, still has some anxiety about the incident and did not want to go to school the next day.
He said: “We made her go anyway, I think it’s good for her to be around her friends to try and forget about what happened.”
The Straits Times has reached out to UOB and SCDF for more information.