SINGAPORE: A gas leak on a bus that sparked an explosion and a fire caused the death of a private bus driver in 2010, according to findings of a Coroner’s Court.
Mr Chan Beng San, who was then 56 years old, died from medical complications after he suffered extensive burns.
State Coroner Eddy Tham released the findings in an inquiry into the death of Mr Chan.
The court heard that Mr Chan worked as a private bus driver for a travel company.
On 13 August 2010 at around 6.45am, Mr Chan drove the bus carrying Singapore Armed Forces personnel from Jurong Camp 1 to Poyang Range at Old Choa Chu Kang Road.
When the group boarded the bus, they alerted Mr Chan of petrol smell, but he dismissed their concerns, saying that the smell was normal, or could have been caused by previous passengers who had brought durians on board the vehicle.
The court heard that Mr Chan had contacted a colleague around that time to inform him that there was something wrong with the bus, but did not elaborate. The colleague then advised him to contact the company.
It is believed that the explosion occurred while the bus was on the move.
Around 7.30am, Mr Chan was found sitting along the road, a few metres away from the burning bus.
He suffered serious burns on his upper body and head, and died four days later in hospital.
The court heard that Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) had leaked from a piping joint, and accumulated inside the bus through two floor—mounted service access panels.
The leaked gas ignited near the front of the bus, causing an explosion, and later a fire. Although the exact cause of the explosion was not specified, investigators noted that the bus had a cigarette lighter mounted on the dashboard near the driver’s seat.
Fire investigators from the Singapore Civil Defence Force noted that the incident was not caused by a mechanical failure of the CNG cylinders as the cylinders were found intact.
No foul play was suspected.
The investigations also revealed that 12 days before the incident, the bus had undergone checks after Mr Chan voiced concerns over gas leak as he felt there was no power to the bus. A mechanic conducted tests on all the joints of the CNG pipings and was convinced there was no leakage.
Following the incident, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) inspected the 22 remaining CNG—fuelled buses in the fleet used by the travel company that Mr Chan worked for. It found some design flaws in these buses that could affect the integrity of their CNG systems.
The CNG systems in these buses were then converted to diesel—powered engines before their Public Service Vehicle licences were reinstated.
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