Landslide in Malaysia camp kills 18, including children, in their sleep

Landslide in Malaysia camp kills 18, including children, in their sleep
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  • Landslide swept away farm camp overnight
  • 450,000 cubic meters of soil were moved – minister
  • Three children, 10 women among the dead; 15 missing
  • Hundreds involved in search mission

BATANG KALI, Malaysia, Dec 16 (Reuters) – A landslide killed at least 18 people, including children, on Friday as they slept in their tents at an unlicensed camp in Malaysia on Friday, authorities said, as crews search were looking for thick mud and fallen trees. survivors

The landslide in Selangor state, bordering the capital Kuala Lumpur, occurred before 3 am (1900 GMT), tumbling down a hillside toward an organic farm that authorities said was operating the camp illegally.

The victims included three children and 10 women, according to the fire and rescue department.

Camper Teh Lynn Xuan, 22, said one of her brothers died and another was being treated at the hospital.

“I heard a loud sound like thunder, but it was the rocks falling,” he told the Malay-language daily Berita Harian.

“We felt the tents becoming unstable and the earth falling around us. Fortunately, I was able to get out of the tent and go to a safer place. My mother and I managed to get out and save ourselves.”

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

Earth fell from an estimated height of 100 feet (30 meters) and covered an area of ​​about one acre (0.4 hectares), according to the state director of the state fire and rescue department.

An initial investigation showed that an embankment of about 450,000 cubic meters of earth had collapsed, according to the Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

There were 94 people trapped in the landslide, but 61 were safe and 15 were missing, according to Malaysia’s National Disaster Management Agency.

Eight people were hospitalized, including a pregnant woman, while others suffered injuries ranging from minor cuts to suspected spinal injuries, Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said.

The district police chief, Suffian Abdullah, said the dead were all Malaysians, including a boy of around 5 years old. About 400 people participated in the rescue mission, he said.

Pictures posted on the Father’s Organic Farm Facebook page show a farm in a small valley, with a large area where tents can be pitched. The farm’s owners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Its owners were allowed to operate organic farms but had not applied for licenses to operate three camps on the property, Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming told reporters.

If found guilty of violating the law, the owners can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to 50,000 ringgit ($11,300), Nga said, adding that he had ordered camps near rivers, hillsides and other areas of high risk across the country will close for seven days. days.

Local TV footage showed the aftermath of a large landslide across a steep, wooded area alongside a road, while footage on social media showed rescuers scrambling over thick mud, large trees and other debris. .

“I pray that the missing victims can be found safely soon,” Minister Nik Nazmi tweeted.

Selangor is the most prosperous state in the country and has suffered from landslides before, often blamed on forest and land clearing.

Landslides are common in Malaysia, but usually only after heavy rain. Floods occur frequently, with around 21,000 people. displaced last year from torrential rains in seven states.

Leong Jim Meng, another camper, said he did not expect a landslide as there had only been a light drizzle in recent days.

“My family and I got trapped when the dirt covered our tent,” he told Berita Harian. “We managed to run to the parking lot and called the authorities. They arrived quite quickly, about 30 minutes later.”

($1 = 4.4180 ringgit)

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, Angie Teo, Yantoultra Ngui, and Hasnoor Hussein; Written by Lincoln Feast; Edited by Ed Davies, Martin Petty, Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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