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Aqil Hamzah and Lee Li Ying
The Straits Times
Dec 30, 2022
A dislodged door handle led to a penthouse resident becoming trapped in a windowless bathroom for four days.
Ms Yang, who declined to give her full name, could not call for help as she did not have her mobile phone with her.
The 31-year-old Singaporean drank water from the tap and slept while seated on the toilet bowl during her four-day ordeal
Ms Yang, who has been living alone in her two-storey condominium penthouse near Beauty World in Bukit Timah for the past year, told The Straits Times that a few days before she got trapped in the bathroom, she had noticed that the door handle felt a little loose, but had not thought much of it.
On Nov 24, the handle became dislodged when she closed the bathroom door to take a shower. She put the handle aside and it was only after her shower that she realised that the door could no longer be opened and that she was trapped.
She tried hacking the door open with the handle to no avail.
Worry had not set in then. “I message my parents every day because they are in China, so they will notice if I disappear, and I know that they will take action,” she said.
But it turned out to be a long wait for help.
Over the next few days, she knocked on the bathroom door loudly, especially in the early morning, hoping someone would notice. “But no one did,” she said, adding that she would knock harder whenever she heard the doorbell ringing.
In between her attempts to free herself, she thought about her family and work, and ways to prevent such an incident from occurring again in the future, she said.
Her spirits were down whenever she heard her pet parrot singing outside.
Her lucky break came when the police came to her apartment to investigate her disappearance.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Senior Staff Sergeant Ibnu Musalli and Sergeant Miqdad Fisall recounted how they responded to a call for help from Ms Yang’s relative on the evening of Nov 27.
The relative had been worried as Ms Yang had been uncontactable for four days. When he went to her apartment to check, there was no response, and Ms Yang was unreachable on her mobile phone.
When the two officers arrived at the estate, neighbours told them they had not seen her for days either, while delivery parcels were left strewn outside her house.
Sgt Miqdad said that as he and his colleague were speaking to the neighbours, they noticed a faint rapping sound coming from the other side of the wall.
With the help of a security guard, the officers gained access to Ms Yang’s apartment and forced the bathroom door open. They then passed her a towel and some clothes.
“When I heard the officers’ voices, I felt very thankful and moved,” said Ms Yang, adding that she has written them a thank-you note.
Paramedics who arrived soon after checked her condition, and after she was given a clean bill of health, she immediately called her parents – who had sent her more than 40 messages – to tell them she was safe. Her first order of business after that was to get food – a bowl of hotpot noodles.
She plans to eventually put a spare mobile phone in the bathroom or use a smartwatch so that she can contact someone if she ever gets trapped again.
“But for now, I don’t fully close the bathroom door any more,” said Ms Yang.