- Landslide destroys farm camp overnight
- Among the dead were 3 children, 10 women; 17 missing
- Hundreds of people participated in the search mission
- Cause of landslide unknown
BATANG KARRI, Malaysia, Dec 16 (Reuters) – At least 16 people, including children, were killed in a landslide while sleeping in tents at a Malaysian camp on Friday, officials said, as search teams searched for More than 20 people are still missing after thick soil and felled trees.
A landslide in the state of Selangor, which borders the capital Kuala Lumpur, slid down an organic farm with camping facilities just before 3am (1900GMT). Three children and 10 women were among the victims, according to fire and rescue services.
The cause of the landslide was not yet known and only light rain fell in the area.
Camper Teh Lynn Xuan, 22, said one of her brothers was killed and another was being treated in hospital.
“I heard a loud noise like thunder, but it was the sound of stones falling,” she told Malay-language daily Berita Harian.
“We felt the tent became unstable and dirt was falling around us. Luckily, I was able to get out of the tent and go to a safer place. My mother and I managed to climb out and save ourselves.”
The disaster occurred in the town of Patanga Li, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, just outside the famous hilltop area of Genting Highlands, known for its resorts, waterfalls and natural beauty.
Pictures posted on the Facebook page of his father’s organic farm show a farmhouse in a small valley with a large area to pitch a tent.
According to Malaysia’s National Disaster Management Agency, 94 people were trapped in the landslide, but 61 were found safe and 17 were missing.
Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa told a news conference that eight people were hospitalized, including a pregnant woman, while others suffered minor injuries, suspected spinal injuries.
Regional police chief Sofian Abdullah said the dead were all Malaysians, including a child about 5 years old. Nearly 400 personnel were deployed for the rescue mission, he said.
pray for survivors
According to the governor of the Fire and Rescue Department, the landslide fell from an estimated height of 30 meters (100 feet) above the camp and covered an area of about 1 acre (0.4 hectares).
Local television footage showed the aftermath of the massive landslide cutting through a steep forested area next to the road, while images on social media showed rescuers climbing through thick mud, large trees and other debris.
“I pray that the missing victims are found safely and quickly,” Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Malaysia’s Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, tweeted on Friday. “Rescue teams have already started work and I will go down today.”
Bernama quoted the Home Minister as saying on Twitter that all campsites and water recreation areas around Batang Kari were ordered to close immediately.
Selangor, the wealthiest state in the country, has also experienced landslides before, often as a result of forest and land clearing.
Landslides are common in Malaysia, but usually only after heavy rains. Flooding is a regular occurrence, with about 21,000 people displaced by torrential rains in seven states last year.
Another camper, Leong Jim Meng, said he did not expect landslides as there had been only light rain in recent days.
“My family and I were trapped when the mud covered our tent,” he told Berita Harian. “We managed to run to the car park and call the authorities. They were there very quickly, about 30 minutes later.”
Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, Angie Teo, Yantoultra Ngui and Hasnoor Hussein; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty and Gerry Doyle
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