23 killed, 14 missing in Malaysia landslide
December 17, 2022 08:37 AM
At least 23 people, including four children, were killed when a landslide struck a campsite at a Malaysian farm on Friday, officials said, with rescuers scouring the muddy terrain for those still missing.
"The total is 23 people (dead)," Norazam Khamis, director of the Selangor state fire and rescue department, told reporters.
Two of the victims were "believed to be a mother and her child in a state of embrace buried under the earth", he said, adding that 14 people were still missing.
According to Nga Kor Ming, the local government development minister, 61 people so far have been found safe after the predawn landslide near the town of Batang Kali, just outside the capital Kuala Lumpur and near a mountain casino resort.
Veronica Loi, who was camping at the site overnight and survived the landslide, told AFP that her family was sleeping when they heard a sudden, loud sound.
"We saw the tent beside us was totally gone," she said.
Hundreds of government personnel including police and rescuers were seen at the gates leading to the campsite compound, while an excavator was seen entering the area from the main road.
Authorities said rescue efforts would be on-going but if it rained, they would have to stop.
The farm where the campsite was situated -- "Father's Organic Farm" -- changed its Facebook profile picture to all black on Friday.
Nga said the "campsite is operating without a licence", and that the operators would be punished if found guilty by the court.
Videos and photos circulating online showed large fallen trees and crushed vehicles, as well as search and rescue personnel wearing headlamps and digging with shovels, and searching for survivors by a fallen structure.
Landslides are common in Malaysia after heavy rains, which are regular at the end of the year. However, there were no heavy rains recorded overnight in Batang Kali.
The government has imposed strict rules with regards to hillside development, but landslides have continued to occur after bouts of bad weather.
In March, four people were killed after a massive landslide triggered by heavy rains buried their homes in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.
In one of the deadliest such incidents, a huge mudslide in 1993 brought on by heavy rain caused a 12-storey residential building outside the capital to collapse, killing 48 people.