Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Malaysia landslide toll hits 26 after man found hugging dog

Malaysia landslide toll hits 26 after man found hugging dog

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The death toll from a landslide at an unauthorised campsite in Malaysia rose to 26 after search and rescue teams on Wednesday found the body of a man in a tight embrace with his dog, officials said.

Seven people are still missing after a predawn landslide on Friday hit the site located at an organic farm near the town of Batang Kali in Selangor state, just north of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

About 680 personnel from various agencies led by the fire and rescue department and the police are involved in the rescue operations. On Wednesday, emergency services crews combing through muddy terrain dug out the body of a man still hugging his dog, senior rescue official Hafisham Mohamad Noor told AFP.

The man's remains were brought to a hospital while the dog's were handed over to veterinarians, he added.

On Tuesday night, the remains of a young girl were recovered, officials said.

Local police chief Suffian Abdullah said the girl is believed to be between six and 10 years of age and that she was found five metres (16 feet) below ground.

"When found, the victim was dressed in pink pants and shirt, sleepwear," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The 26 fatalities include eight children. Officials said that when the landslide struck, there had been more than 90 people, most of them asleep, at the campsite near a mountain casino resort. More than 60 campers had been found safe or rescued.

The farm did not have a licence to run a campsite and its operators will be punished if they were found to have broken the law, authorities have said. Landslides are common in Malaysia after heavy rains, which are regular at the end of the year.

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