Identity of skeletal remains found under Kallang Bahru bridge unknown: State Coroner

·Senior Reporter
·3 min read
The bridge at Kallang Bahru, 1 Kallang Place. (PHOTO: Google Street View)
The bridge at Kallang Bahru, 1 Kallang Place. (PHOTO: Google Street View)

SINGAPORE — An open verdict was recorded in relation to skeletal remains found by a worker under a bridge at Kallang Bahru in 2020, after the State Coroner said he was unable to determine the identity of the deceased person. 

In findings released on Wednesday (12 January), State Coroner Adam Nakhoda said that while the remains were unknown, they likely belonged to “an adult male, aged in his 30s to 60s, and likely of Mongoloid racial descent.” The deceased could have been 1.64 to 1.68 metres in height, according to autopsy findings. 

SC Nakhoda ruled that the man had likely died at least six months to one year before his discovery on 9 November 2020. The cause of death also remained unknown, with an autopsy report and a dental examination report showing no visible signs of facial trauma nor any fractures to the facial bones.

How the remains came to be found 

The remains were found after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) awarded a contract to K&C Scaffolding (K&C) to erect scaffolding under the bridge, located at Kallang Bahru, 1 Kallang Place.

K&C completed the scaffolding preparations by 27 October 2020 and workers commenced erecting the first portion of the scaffolding on 2 November 2020. The first portion stretched from the river bank towards towards the bridge’s first column set into the river bed.

On 6 November 2020, K&C workers started erecting the next part of the scaffolding, which was to extend the walkway across the river towards the second column set into the river bed and then to the far river bank. 

The walkway was to run parallel to the bridge and – at certain points – perpendicular to the bridge. LTA inspectors would be able to walk along the walkway to access the bridge’s support columns and beams in the middle of the river to carry out their inspection.

On 9 November 2020, K&C workers arrived in the morning to continue their scaffolding. Around noon, while erecting the scaffolding, a K&C worker saw a skull in a space under the bridge. He informed LTA, which called the police.

The police arrived and conducted checks at the underside of the bridge and at the top of one of the support beams. Apart from the skull, officers found additional skeletionised remains scattered around the top of the support beam.

The police also found a shirt, a pair of underwear, three clumps of hair and some hair strands in the vicinity of the remains.

At the entry point to a walkway, the police also found a suitcase, a brown bag, and a black and white striped bag. The suitcase contained a pair of jeans, a pair of underwear, a belt and a sock, while faded receipts were found in the black and white bag.

“Pieces of paper with telephone numbers were also found in the bags. The police called the telephone numbers, however, the persons who answered the calls were unable to provide any information relevant to the investigations,” the SC said.

The police did not find anything that could be used to identify the owner of the bags or belongings. The man was established to be homeless and living under the bridge.

The deceased person was pronounced dead at the bridge, with an autopsy report certifying the cause of death as not ascertained, with no evidence to suggest foul play.

The remains obtained included 11 ribs, a vertebrae, pelvis, tibia, fibula, scapulae and manubrium. No flesh remained and the bones were discoloured. The bones did not show any injuries before death or overt disease that could be a cause of death. 

The police went through 18 unsolved missing person reports dating from June 2019 to June 2020 pertaining to males aged between 30 and 60, but none of the reports correlated to the remains.

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