SINGAPORE – A 27-year-old foreign worker was electrocuted to death in October last year while he was stealing electrical cables from the Police National Service Department.
A coroner’s inquiry on Thursday (Aug 5) heard that Murugan Kothalam was a driver employed by engineering and IT solutions provider STIE.
He was not a trained electrician.
Kothalam had visited the work site on Oct 15 last year with three electricians who were authorised to dismantle equipment such as projector stands and hose reels.
The electricians were not permitted to cut or remove any electrical cables that day as the power supply of the facility was still on.
Wanting to steal the cables and sell them for a profit, Kothalam devised a plan with his colleague, Ezilarasan Nagarajan, an electrician at STIE. They had agreed to split the profits .
To retrieve the cables, Kothalam climbed a ladder to cut them loose while Nagarajan pulled them out from the ceiling.
At around 1pm that day, while Kothalam was alone in the room, one of the electricians heard a ladder shaking.
When he went to investigate the noise, he saw Kothalam’s upper body above the ceiling panel. He was not moving even as the ladder continued to shake.
Suspecting that he had been electrocuted, the electrician kicked the ladder away, causing Kothalam to fall to the ground.
The workers at the site tried to resuscitate Kothalam but he did not respond. He was sent to Changi General Hospital and died about two hours later.
Inspections by the Ministry of Manpower and the Energy Market Authorities found that Kothalam had been cutting a live wire while gripping the non-insulated part of the cable cutter.
As he was holding onto the metal ceiling board frame, a closed circuit led to a fatal electric shock.
Coroner Adam Nakhoda ruled the death a misadventure.
Social enterprise ItsRainingRaincoats (IRR), which focuses on migrant worker issues, said in a post on website Give.Asia that Kothalam had a young son whom he never met.
A total of $6,841 has been raised for his family in an online drive by IRR.
This article was first published in The Straits Times . Permission required for reproduction.
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