Two hit by lightning on fishing trip; one dies

Leonard Lim & Elizabeth Soh Straits Times 21 Nov 11;

A PAIR of friends on a fishing trip to Coney Island were struck by lightning on Saturday evening, leaving one dead and the other in critical condition.

Mr Tan Guan Yin, 40, and Mr Eng Yang Huat, 41, are believed to have been taking shelter under a tree when a storm hit the island, which lies off Punggol.

Mr Tan, a dispatch rider and bachelor, was killed instantly, and Mr Eng, whose occupation is unknown, was left lying in spasms, and badly burnt.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman confirmed the incident yesterday, saying a call for help came at 5.19pm. SCDF officers arrived at the scene 11 minutes later and rushed Mr Eng to Changi General Hospital, where he is in intensive care.

Secluded island a peaceful spot for anglers

When The Straits Times visited him in hospital yesterday evening, he appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness. Parts of his body were swathed in bandages.

He was not known to have had any visitors.

Over at Mr Tan's flat in Yishun Avenue4 yesterday evening, four of his relatives were waiting outside for a locksmith to break the locks.

When they were finally let in, they saw a home that was a shrine to fishing: Fishing rods were propped upright against the furniture, and the walls had mounted moulds of fish along with descriptions.

Neighbours told The Straits Times that Mr Tan had been living there for about five years, and that they had never seen anyone enter or leave the flat with him.

They also remarked that he seemed absent-minded; he frequently left his keys in the lock.

Madam Salma Hussein, 53, a librarian, said: 'I last saw him about a week ago. He always returns home from work late. He rides a motorbike, he fishes. Sometimes, he goes out carrying a rod and sometimes, he doesn't come home.'

His relatives, who declined to be named, said they were not close to him, but will arrange a wake for him.

The Straits Times understands that Coney Island, also known as Pulau Serangoon, is a fenced-off area slated for redevelopment.

Angling enthusiasts know that the easiest way to get to it without a boat is to walk across at low tide. It is believed Mr Tan and Mr Eng did this from a spot along Lorong Halus off the Tampines Expressway. They would have had to climb over a series of wave breakers and a fence to get on the island.

Fishing enthusiasts told The Straits Times that they enjoy going to Coney Island because it is secluded.

Technician Fazrul Suleiman, 28, said: 'Not many people know about the area, so I don't have to fight for space. It's peaceful and scenic.'

Singapore is notoriously lightning prone, getting on average 186 lightning days a year. November is the month with the most lightning activity, followed by April and May.

In the most recent reported lightning incident this year, a golfer escaped with burns to his head and hand after being struck by lightning at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

Additional reporting by Lim Yan Liang