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FOR more than 40 years, the grave remained undisturbed at the foot of a block of residential flats.
It was discovered on Monday when excavating works were carried out for HDB's lift upgrading programme. The tombstone indicated that the deceased, Madam Sim Seok Inn, died in 1971 at the age of 83.
Some clothes were found buried near the coffin. Some residents of Block 711, Yishun Avenue 5, were a little alarmed by the discovery of the tomb.
Mr Zali H M, 57, feels that while it was nothing to worry about, he would still try to avoid the area.
"I will walk away from the lift. Maybe walk around it," said the retiree.
He, like some others, asked: "Why is there even a coffin here?"
According to a spokesman for the National Environment Agency (NEA), the burial site of the tombstone "may have been where a cemetery was once sited and then exhumed for public housing development by the HDB in the late 70s to the early 80s".
She added: "Upon completion of the investigation and the confirmation that the site is indeed within the cemetery, HDB will carry out the necessary exhumation with a permit from NEA."
But this was not enough to assure a 40-year-old housewife who will be moving into the block next month. The mother of two, who gave her name only as Madam Norasmah, was shocked when told of the discovery.
She immediately asked: "Why didn't they find it when they built these flats?"
Her sister, a 34-year-old housewife who gave her name only as Madam Anita, felt that checks should be done to ensure that there are no more coffins left underground.
She added: "If you find one, there might be others. Something should be done to appease the spirit."
Mr Mohan, 35, team supervisor of the lift upgrading project, said that offerings were made after the discovery. Joss sticks and candles were seen at the site.
Kienta Engineering Construction, the company in charge of the project, declined to comment. Other residents though were unfazed.
One of them was Mr Steven Lim, 48, a swimming instructor, who said: "She has been dead for so long, so what is there to be scared about?
"If there were to be any hauntings, it would have happened a long time ago. Why wait until now?"
Sharing his sentiments was Mrs Wu You Jin, 65, a housewife who lives on the second floor.
She said in Mandarin: "As long as your conscience is clear, you have nothing to worry about."
A police spokesman confirmed that a call was received around 12.30pm on Monday about a tombstone and some coffin remains being found at a construction site. He added that the matter has since been referred to NEA for action.
In March 2007, heavy rain uncovered some 34,000 earthenware urns under a hill near Block 299, at the junction of Yishun Avenue 2 and Yishun Ring Road. A marble memorial tower nearby indicated that it was a burial ground.
A prayer was later held to "free the souls" buried there. Most of the urns were then reburied while remains from the broken urns were put in new containers and placed in the hollow space under the plaque in the centre of the memorial tower.