GEORGE TOWN: The retaining wall that collapsed at a Penang resort on Tuesday night (Jun 25), in a landslide that killed four Myanmar workers, was built by the resort owner after noticing soil movement, police said.
A search and rescue operation was launched immediately after the incident at Lost Paradise Resort in Jalan Batu Ferringhi was reported at 9.45pm, after the workers were buried alive.
All four bodies were recovered from the site, three of which were found in a standing position.
North East district police chief Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Che Zaimani Che Awang said the owner of the resort had noticed soil movements on the edge of the road a week ago.
He then contracted a Myanmar worker, known as Ong, to build a retaining wall.
“Ong was working as a maintenance staff member at the resort for almost three years. He roped in three of his compatriots for the job.
“They were given 20 days to finish the job,” ACP Che Zaimani said.
An eyewitness, gardener Mr Zulkefli Tinggal, 61, told the police that he heard a thunderous sound before the retaining wall came tumbling down.
Police said they will contact the Myanmar embassy to verify the identities of the deceased.
In a statement, the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) confirmed that the construction of the retaining wall was illegal.
“MBPP is now conducting a detailed investigation into the incident and legal action will be taken against the culprit,” it said in a separate Facebook post.
In October 2017, a landslide at a nearby construction site in Tanjung Bungah killed 11 workers.
Bernama reported that Tanjung Bungah has been identified as one of the high risk locations for landslides.
Professor Habibah Lateh, a landslide and disaster management expert, was quoted as saying that the rock composition in Tanjung Bungah was largely made up of granite rocks that were in the process of erosion.