SINGAPORE - Police were on the lookout for a man on Friday night (Jan 21) after two children were found dead near a playground in Upper Bukit Timah that same evening, The Straits Times has learnt.
Taxi drivers who received an alert message, which the police confirmed to ST as genuine, were told to be on the alert for a man of unknown race last seen at 3pm that day in Greenridge Crescent.
The bodies of the victims, twin boys aged 11, were said to have been found in a canal near the playground.
The alert, which has since been stood down, described the individual as aged 30 to 40 years old, "tan looking", in grey shirt and donning sports shoes. ST understands that no arrest has been made as yet.
In a statement on Saturday, the police said they received a call for help on Friday at 6.25pm from the boys' father who was at a playground in Greenridge Crescent.
When officers arrived at the scene, his 11-year-old sons were found lying motionless in a nearby canal. They were pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.
Police have classified the case as unnatural deaths and investigations are ongoing.
When ST arrived at the playground at about noon on Saturday, two police vehicles were parked along Greenridge Crescent and officers in plain clothes were spotted speaking to residents around Eng Kong estate.
Officers from the police's Gurkha contingent were seen walking inside the canal where the bodies were found and also combing the forested area behind the playground.
The canal, which is large and deep, cuts across the playground. What looked like a dozen cushion-like structures were strewn in a section of the canal.
At about 4pm on Saturday, two men and two women turned up in the area to light candles and leave offerings by the canal.
One of the men, identified as Mr Fong Chun Cheong, said that he is a family friend. He added that he is from Singapore Yin Feng Shui Funeral Services and has been engaged by the boys' mother to help the family with funeral proceedings.
He said the others in the group comprised the boys' sister, who is in her early 20s, and family friends.
"They just want closure and to be left alone…They just want to have peace," said Mr Fong, who is a funeral director.
The 40-year-old added that he had met the boys before, describing them as "lively and energetic". ST understands the twins were children with special needs.
"They were maybe six or seven years old then. I learnt about the incident on Friday and was shocked."
According to a text message circulating among neighbours, police officers had approached residents in the area on Friday to secure closed-circuit television footage.
A domestic worker who lives near the playground said she heard a girl shouting for help at about 6.30pm on Friday.
The helper, who declined to be named, thought it was just children playing. But 15 minutes later, she saw a number of police officers in the area.
Residents whom ST approached said the playground is usually quiet and frequented by joggers in the evening.
They said that they saw police and Singapore Civil Defence Force vehicles lining the street at about 6.45pm on Friday. They added that as it was not raining, the canal was not flooded.
One resident, who declined to be named, said she saw officers carrying two bodies onto a vehicle at around midnight.
She added that she noticed how, a few hours before the bodies were removed, a yellow car that was parked on the road was towed away.
"It's quite a secluded and quiet park and it's beautiful," she said. But she added that because of mosquitoes, her grandchildren preferred to play in a connecting park.
The playground is surrounded by landed terrace and semi-detached homes.
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Sim Ann said in a Facebook post: "This is a grave tragedy, and unthinkable especially to anyone who is a parent.
"I know the news is deeply shocking and upsetting to our community."
She urged residents to avoid speculation and to wait for official information from the police.
She added: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the children who have lost their lives so tragically."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.