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Floods, mudslides belt Singapore


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Tuesday December 19, 2006

Singapore- A 24-hour deluge caused heavy flooding in parts of Singapore, triggered mudslides and left several traffic junctions impassable, officials said Wednesday. More rain was forecast, casting a pall over soaked shoppers in the run-up to the Christmas holiday.

There were no official reports of any deaths or serious injuries, only minor accidents.

Members of the Civil Defence Force rescued three employees Tuesday from an office building after flooding prevented them from opening the main gate. A hole was cut in a side fence to let them out.

The third-heaviest inundation in the city-state's history was most intense over the northern and central parts of the city-state, where flooding affected at least four locations.

Vehicles were diverted from several traffic junctions rendered impassable by the rising water.

Mudslides carried soil and trees down a slope, covering two cars, parts of a playground and the front yards of several homes.

"What a backbreaking task, scooping water out of the house," 60- year-old housewife Habsah Rohe told The Straits Times.

Within two hours, water that started rising around the wooden home was up to her knees.

A tall tree toppled and smashed the windows of four flats at a housing block and damaged a concrete ledge.

The thunderstorms and torrential downpour started Monday.

The rainfall was the third-highest recorded in Singapore in the last 75 years, according to the Public Utilities Board. Over a 20- hour period, the total was 345 millimetres, exceeding the entire monthly average for December, which is 284.4 millimetres.

The highest rainfall recorded in the city-state over 24 hours was 512.4 millimetres in 1978, causing the worst flooding in recent history.

Nurseries, outdoor dining outlets and retail booths were the worst-hit businesses. Plants and equipment were swept away.

"I've been here 26 years, but this is the worst," the newspaper quoted Sharon Ong, who runs Candy Greenhouse, as saying. She had just acquired new stock for the festive season.

Meteorologists said that the heavy rain was caused by a north-east monsoon.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency