Batang Kali landslide: Worst tragedy so far this year

16 Dec 2022 09:38pm
The landslide area near Father's Organic Farm Batang Kali. Photo by Bernama
The landslide area near Father's Organic Farm Batang Kali. Photo by Bernama

BATANG KALI - A massive landslide occurred just after 2am today at a popular campsite for holidaymakers along the Batang Kali-Genting Highlands road, leaving 21 people dead and 12 missing as of 7.10 pm.

Sixty-one other people were rescued throughout the day from the soil and mud that covered an area over 500 metres in length, 200 metres in width and eight metres in depth, displacing about 450,000 sq metres of earth, at the Father’s Organic Farm campsite near Gohtong Jaya in Pahang.

The wee hours tragedy was the 23rd landslide incident reported nationwide this year, the worst ever tragedy this year and involving a large number of people.

Personnel from various search and rescue services are continuing to toil round the clock to reach the missing, unimpeded by the rainy weather brought on by the North-East Monsoon that has made their task all the more difficult. It is learnt that firefighters from the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department were the first to arrive on the scene, at about 3 am, soon after receiving a distress call at 2.24 am. The firefighters were drawn from the Kuala Kubu Bharu, Rawang, Genting Highlands, Sentosa, Ampang, Pandan, Kota Anggerik, Kajang and Andalas fire and rescue stations, said Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Norazam Khamis.

It was learnt that K9 tracker dogs and personnel from the Special Tactical Operation and Rescue Team of Malaysia (STORM) and Emergency Medical Rescue Service (EMRS) were also engaged in the SAR mission. Norazam said the SAR operations will continue in the next 24 hours, barring bad weather, in searching for 12 more victims. Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Musta Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah expressed grief over the incident and extended condolences to the relatives of the dead.

The Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah and Tengku Permaisuri of Selangor Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin, Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar also expressed sadness over the incident and extended condolences to the next-of-kin of those who died.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim issued a statement ordering a thorough and systematic search-and-rescue (SAR) mission by all the relevant government departments. He called on all Malaysians to pray for the SAR mission to be carried out smoothly.

As a precautionary measure, the government ordered an immediate seven-day closure of all camping sites located along rivers, waterfalls and hillsides. Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said all local authorities had been informed of this and that closure would be in force until the government issued new instructions.

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Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the landslide had displaced about 450,000 sq metres of earth.

Following the tragedy, the police closed Jalan B66 Batang Kali-Genting Highlands for security reasons and to facilitate the SAR operation.

Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexandar Nanta Linggi said the public can use an alternative route to Genting Highlands via Jalan Hulu-Yam Batu Caves.

Resorts World Genting, Malaysia’s premier integrated resort destination, advised its guests travelling to and from the resort to use the Karak Highway and the Genting Sempah route until further notice.

Several teachers were also among the holidaymakers at the campsite. The Parent-Teacher Association of Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC) Mun Choong in Kampung Batu, Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur said about 20 teachers of the school and their family members had camped there as well.

Its head, U Chin Ong, spoke to reporters at the Hulu Yam Bharu police station, saying some of the teachers had been rescued and some came to the police station to give statements.

The penghulu of Mukim Hulu Yam, Muhammad Nabil Salehat said this was the first landslide of such a serious nature to happen in the area. "A landslide occurred in Serendah in 2016, but it was not as bad as this," he added.

The Father’s Organic Farm Campsite & Facilities, on its online promotion, offers ground for camping activities. It invites holidaymakers to bring their own camping equipment or rent from them They have three camping sites, namely the River Farm campsite, Farm View Campsite and Hill Top Campsite. Each campsite has its own facilities, including toilet, shower, wash basin and shelter. - BERNAMA

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