Landslide at campsite in Malaysia leaves 18 dead, 15 missing

Leong Jim Meng told the English-language daily New Straits Times that he and his family were awakened by a loud bang and felt the earth move at the Batang Kali campsite, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the capital Kuala Lumpur .

“My family and I were trapped as the earth covered our tent. We managed to escape to a parking lot and heard a second landslide,” the 57-year-old said. He said it was surprising as there has been no heavy rain in recent days, only light drizzles.

It is currently the monsoon rainy season in Malaysia, and the country’s government development minister, Nga Kor Ming, has said that all campsites in the country near rivers, waterfalls and hills will be closed for a while. week to assess their safety.

The Selangor State Fire Department released photos of rescuers with flashlights digging through the ground and rubble with an excavator and shovels in the early hours of the morning. More than 400 people as well as tracking dogs took part in the search and rescue efforts.

Fire chief Norazam Khamis was quoted by the Free Malaysia Today news portal as saying that two of the bodies found “were hugging” and believed to be a mother and a daughter.

About 450,000 cubic meters (nearly 16 million cubic feet) of debris – enough to fill 180 Olympic swimming pools – hit the campsite, said Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, to local media.

Rescuers search for buried survivors after a landslide hit a campsite in Batang Kali, Malaysia on Friday. Civil Defense of Malaysia / AP

Suffian, the district police chief, said the victims entered the area on Wednesday, a popular recreation site for residents to pitch or rent farm tents. The campsite is not far from the resort town of Genting Highlands, a popular tourist destination with theme parks and Malaysia’s only casino.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is expected to visit the site on Friday evening.

Nga told local media that the campsite had been operating illegally for two years. The operator has government approval to run an organic farm but does not have a license for camping activities, he said. If found guilty, Nga warned that the camp operator could face up to three years in prison and a fine.

Some families with young children who were rescued took refuge in a nearby police station. Access to roads leading to the area has been blocked.


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