Kuala Lumpur: The death toll of a landslide in Malaysia’s Selangor state has risen to 21 with another 12 still missing, a Malaysian official has said.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the search and rescue operation is still ongoing and various agencies are doing their best to search for the victims, with machinery and search dogs being used to locate them, Xinhua news agency reported.
“My deepest condolences to the families of the victims who died in this tragedy,” he told reporters following a visit to the area.
Ahmad Zahid also said with heavy rainfall expected in the coming days, especially on the east coast, strong currents of water would flow on slopes and hillsides, which could then lead to further landslides, advising all such camping sites to be vacated.
Earlier, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution said personnel from 15 government agencies are working to recover survivors, according to state news agency Bernama.
Saifuddin also said the police have been instructed to close all campsites and recreational spots in the area until further notice as a precaution.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced financial aid for victims after visiting the rescuers conducting the search and rescue operation here on Friday evening.
“We will expedite the assistance,” he said.
On the treatment of victims, Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said seven victims, including one pregnant woman, are being treated at three nearby hospitals for injuries ranging from spinal and facial injuries.
Eyewitnesses at the scene and survivors described the landslide as sudden. Leong Jim Meng, a 57-year-old camper, said he thought he heard an explosion and felt as though the earth had moved beneath him before a landslide hit his campsite.
“We were sleeping when the incident happened at 2 a.m. It was too dark to see clearly what was happening,” he told local media, adding that his family managed to escape to a nearby parking lot.
In footage released by the authorities, a huge swathe of mud could be seen leading from the hill slope towards the campsite about 100 feet below, flattening everything in its path and leveling tents and small structures in the area.
Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the landslide was due to a slope failure involving 450,000 cubic meters of soil, and the minerals and geoscience department under his ministry had sent experts to the site to assess the area.
“They will monitor the situation and alert rescuers if there is any more soil movement. Our checks revealed the slope failure involved an area of 500 meters by 200 meters with a depth of 8 meters,” he told reporters at the scene.