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Malaysia landslide: More than 80% of collapsed area searched, says fire and rescue chief

Malaysia landslide: More than 80% of collapsed area searched, says fire and rescue chief

Rescue teams continue the search for victims caught in a landslide on Dec 17, 2022, in Batang Kali, Malaysia. (Photo: AP/Vincent Thian)

BATANG KALI, Selangor: More than 80 per cent of the collapsed area at a campsite where a landslide last Friday (Dec 16) killed 24 people has been searched to find the missing victims.

A landslide hit the Father's Organic Farm campsite in Batang Kali, Selangor last Friday. A total of 94 people were involved in the incident, with 24 dead and nine still missing. The remaining 61 have been rescued.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Norazam Khamis said on Monday that while only 20 per cent of the search area remained, the safety of the rescuers should also be taken into account. 

The search for the remaining nine victims resumed on Monday morning, after rain prematurely halted operations the previous day. 

Mr Norazam said the soft ground and the rainy weather made the search and rescue operation difficult.

"The soil here is really soft and coupled with rainwater, it causes the soil structure to become moist and weak, it is difficult to move in this kind of condition," he told news agency Bernama. 

More than 130 rescuers were at the site on Monday to look for the missing people.

Mr Norazam said the search and rescue operation has been divided into three sectors and involved the cooperation of five main government agencies, as well as several other support agencies. An excavator has also been used since the first day of the search and rescue operation. 

"Rescuers have carried out detection and search for victims according to the area of the collapse, that is from the top of the ruins to the area below," he said.

Short-term preventive measures, including covering the exposed slope with tarpaulin sheets, have been conducted at the Father's Organic Farm campsite to avoid further landslides.

The Public Works Department (PWD) said on Sunday that they were also diverting water flow at the surface and existing drains to prevent run-off from entering the landslide area and installing tilt sensors to monitor soil movement in the area.

The measures were taken after an initial inspection by the department's slope forensics and engineering team revealed there was active underground water flow at the location of the failed slope, especially in the camping grounds.

"The results of the initial findings revealed two slope failures at the same location with intervals of 20 minutes to 30 minutes between them," the department said.

"The first slope failure most likely occurred at the campsite, which caused the toe of the road slope to weaken and led to the (second) larger landslide."

The PWD added that a detailed investigation will be conducted at the site immediately after search and rescue operations are completed.

Source: Bernama/lk


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