Batang Kali camp landslide death toll up to 24

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Dec 2022:

The death toll after a landslide struck a campsite in the Selangor side of the Genting landscape climbed to 24 after rescue teams pulled three bodies from the mud today.

Two children, a boy and girl, and a woman were found today and nine people remain missing following the deadly incident that took place early yesterday, the Selangor fire and rescue department reported.

So far, seven children died since the Batang Kali camp was hit by a landslide outside the hilly Genting Highlands, some 40 km northeast of Kuala Lumpur.

Emergency services continued the rescue operation today after a stoppage last night due to bad weather conditions, which coincides with Malaysia’s monsoon season.

Bulldozers and seven sniffer dogs are being used at the rescue operation said Selangor fire and rescue department head Datuk Norazam Khamis.

“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 chances were slim for the missing persons to survive due to a lack of oxygen and the weight of the mud.

So far 61 people have been rescued, including 20 members of a Kuala Lumpur primary school, as well as a pregnant woman.

The Malaysian fire and rescue department reported that the earth collapsed from a hillside that was around 30m-high striking the campsite with some 450,000 cubic metres of mud and covering an area of some 0.4ha.

According to police, the landslide struck at 2:24am on Friday – when around 100 people were spending the night at the campsite near Father’s Organic farm.

It is unknown what caused the avalanche, which emerged from a hilly and forested area, because, although it is monsoon season in Malaysia, local reports suggest that only light rains were recorded on the night of the tragedy.

Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said the campsite was operating illegally without a licence.

The Forestry Department has ordered the closure of all “high-risk” campsites, those that are located near rivers, waterfalls and hills for the next seven days.

The landslide took place just 15km from the popular Genting Highlands leisure complex located on a hill that stands 1,740m-high.

On Tuesday, Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid warned citizens and municipal authorities to temporarily stop recreational activities in high-risk areas such as mountains, hills, rivers and beaches, during the monsoon season.