Malaysia landslide: Death toll rises to 24 as search continues at campsite
Nine people are still missing after the landslide at an unlicensed campsite at Father's Organic Farm in the town of Batang Kali.
KUALA LUMPUR: Another three bodies were found on Saturday (Dec 17) at a Malaysia campsite that was struck by a landslide a day earlier, bringing the death toll to 24.
The bodies were that of a boy, a girl and a woman, said the Selangor state fire and rescue department as the search for missing campers continued for a second day.
Efforts were halted overnight due to bad weather. Nine people are still missing.
The landslide in Batang Kali, a popular hilly area near Genting Highlands, tore down while people slept in their tents.
Among the 94 people caught in the landslide, 61 are safe, according to the Malaysia National Disaster Management Agency.
Thick mud, filled with debris and rocks, along with water flow have complicated search efforts for those still missing, said Selangor fire and rescue chief Norazam Khamis.
After being suspended overnight due to heavy rain, search operations resumed at about 8.30am on Saturday with the assistance of excavators and seven canines.
"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," Norazam said.
The search and rescue operation would focus on two of three search sectors.
“We are focusing on the two sites because we believe the victims are trapped (there) ... this is based on the fact that the last victim was found at a spot between these two locations," he added.
“The operation today will involve the use of heavy machinery or excavators to remove soil and large trees which had fallen with the flow of soil."
Norazam told reporters that chances were slim of more missing people being able to survive the lack of oxygen and the weight of the mud.
He added that he did not discount the possibility that there might be victims who are safe but trapped by rock piles or trees.
So far, several victims were found buried in depths of between three and five feet (0.91 metres to 1.52 metres), and there were some victims who were partially buried with parts of their bodies or limbs exposed at the surface, Norazam said.
The wife of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, visited survivors in Selayang Hospital on Saturday.
They included a woman who is 25 weeks pregnant.
Mr Anwar reporters that the government would provide RM10,000 (US$2,260) in aid to families of every person killed in the tragedy, while survivors would receive RM1,000 per household.
An initial investigation showed an embankment of about 450,000 cubic metres of earth had collapsed. The earth fell from an estimated height of 30m and covered an area of about 0.4 hectares.
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.