Saturday, February 4, 2023

Malaysia campsite search continues as 12 still missing after deadly landslide

Malaysia campsite search continues as 12 still missing after deadly landslide

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The search for the remaining 12 campers caught in deadly landslide at an unlicensed campsite in Malaysia continued for a second day, but heavy rains overnight have complicated the operation, officials said.

At least 21 people, including five children, were killed after a landslide in Batang Kali, a popular hilly area about 50 km (30 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, tore down while people slept in their tents.

There were 94 people caught in the landslide but 61 were safe, with 12 still missing, according to the fire and rescue department.

Search and rescue operations were suspended overnight due to heavy rains and resumed around 8.30 a.m. (0030 GMT) on Saturday with the assistance of excavators and seven canines, said Selangor state fire and rescue department chief Norazam Khamis.

"We have to be careful because there is strong water flow from the top and in the soil, this complicates search operations because the ground is soft," he said.

Norazam told reporters the chances of the 12 missing people being able to survive the lack of oxygen and weight of the soil are slim.

An initial investigation showed an embankment of about 450,000 cubic metres of earth had collapsed. The earth fell from an estimated height of 30 metres (100 ft) and covered an area of about an acre (0.4 hectares).

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim told reporters late on Friday the government would provide 10,000 ringgit ($2,261.42) in aid to families of every person killed in the tragedy, while survivors would receive 1,000 ringgit per household.

The Forestry Department in several states ordered the closure of campsites considered as high risk, as well as hiking and off-road driving trails following the disaster.

Landslides are common in Malaysia, but typically only after heavy rains. Flooding occurs often, with about 21,000 people displaced last year by torrential rain in seven states.