On Sunday, January 19, Stephanie Chu and her husband hosted an early Chinese New Year hotpot dinner with friends in their Singapore home. But just 30 minutes into what was supposed to be a festive meal, the glass dining table carrying their electric stove suddenly shattered. The violent turn sent glass debris and pieces of food flying everywhere, wounding everyone sitting around the table.
“With no warning, no cracking sound, it just exploded and shattered,” she told VICE.
The dining room turned into a bloody, soupy mess in mere seconds.
Chu shared photos of the incident on Facebook, where it has now gone viral. As of this article's posting, her post had around 19,000 shares.
Chu said that she and her guests were in a state of shock as they tried to process what happened. Several of her friends were bleeding, while Chu suffered burns from the boiling hot soup which spilled over her feet. Those injured were treated when the paramedics arrived at the scene after the incident.
One guest got a big gash on the bottom of his foot.
Another had to get an X-ray to check for glass shards in his wound and get stitched up.
Chu was taken to the hospital in an ambulance to treat her burns.
She said that they did not overload the table and used a trolley on the side for hotpot ingredients. They also ensured that the induction plate was well-ventilated.
“I don’t think I’m the first person to have hotpot on a glass table,” she said.
She also noted that it was not their first time to serve hotpot on that table. Just a few months ago, in November, she hosted a hotpot meal with her family on the very same table.
“Thank goodness (the explosion) did not happen then, as there were two pregnant ladies around,” she said.
She called the furniture store where she got the glass table, a day after the incident, and they explained that it probably shattered because of “thermal stress.”
Chu said that the store offered to replace their table top. However, they could not come to an agreement on the sum of compensation, which included paying for medical bills, replacing her furniture, and cleaning off blood stains. She has not heard from them since.
Chu and her husband are now in the midst of cleaning up their home. Blood had seeped into the cement grout and, as a result, parts of their white floor are now stained yellow. They now have to re-grout the floor. There are also bloodstains on the sofa.
“And, of course, we have a missing table now,” she said, letting out a resigned laughter. “We’re having our meals on the floor.”
The couple had just moved into their new home last June, too.
“We took time and effort to build this house. It’s our first Chinese New Year here,” she said.
Having hotpot during Chinese New Year is a common practice among Chinese Singaporeans. With the holiday just around the corner, Chu hopes that her story will serve as a warning for people who are planning to serve hotpot on tempered glass top tables.
“One of my friends is using the exact same table and he has a baby at home,” she said, “How would he feel about this incident? Definitely worried.”