Saturday, December 17, 2022

Malaysia landslide death toll rises to 21

Rescue work is underway after a landslide in Batang Kali town near Kuala Lumpur. — AFP
Rescue work is underway after a landslide in Batang Kali town near Kuala Lumpur. — AFP
  • 61 people found safe or rescued, say authorities.
  • Landslide hit a campsite on Friday near Batang Kali town. 
  • The farm did not have licence to run campsite. 

Batang Kali: Rescue workers scoured muddy terrain for survivors and bodies on Saturday as the death toll from a landslide at a Malaysian campsite rose to 21, including five children, authorities said.

A dozen people were still missing after a predawn landslide hit a campsite at an organic farm on Friday near the town of Batang Kali just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Officials said there had been more than 90 people, most of them asleep, at the campsite near a mountain casino resort when the landslide struck.

Authorities said 61 people had been found safe or rescued.

The disaster struck about 50 km (30 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur in Batang Kali, just outside the popular hilltop area of Genting Highlands, known for its resorts, waterfalls and natural beauty.

The earth fell from an estimated height of 30 metres (100 ft) and covered an area of about an acre (0.4 hectares), according to the fire and rescue department's state director.

Two of the victims were "believed to be a mother and her child in a state of embrace buried under the earth", Norazam Khamis, director of the Selangor state fire and rescue department, told reporters on Friday.

The farm did not have a licence to run a campsite and its operators would be punished if they were found to have broken the law, authorities said.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim visited the area late Friday and said financial aid would be given to the families of those killed or injured in the disaster.

Selangor state chief minister Amirudin Shari tweeted that all picnic and camping sites in the state would be closed for a week.

Landslides are common in Malaysia after heavy rains, which are regular at the end of the year, and can occur after bouts of bad weather.

However, no heavy rains were recorded in the area on the night of the disaster.

The government has imposed strict rules on hillside development.

In March, four people were killed after a massive landslide triggered by heavy rains buried their homes in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.

In one of the deadliest such incidents, a huge mudslide in 1993 brought on by heavy rain caused a 12-storey residential building outside the capital to collapse, killing 48 people.