Landslide at Malaysia campground leaves 16 dead, 17 missing

KALI: A landslide early Friday at a hillside tourist campsite in Malaysia 16 people were killed and authorities said 17 others were believed to have been buried at the site on an organic farm outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.
An estimated 94 Malaysians were sleeping at the campsite in Batang Kali, central Selangor state, about 50 kilometers north of the capital Kuala Lumpur when the incident happened, the district police chief said. Suffian Abdullah.
He said the death toll had risen to 16, including a five-year-old boy. He said seven people had been hospitalized with injuries and that rescuers were searching for about 17 missing people. Another 53 people were rescued unharmed.
Suffian said the victims entered the area, a popular recreation spot for locals to set up or rent tents from the farm, on Wednesday. More than 400 personnel, including tracking dogs, were involved in the search and rescue efforts.
The Selangor Fire Department said firefighters began arriving on the scene half an hour after receiving an emergency call at 2:24 a.m. local time. The landslide fell from the side of the road from an estimated height of 30 meters (98 feet) and covered an area of ​​about three acres (1.2 hectares). The fire department posted photos of rescuers with flashlights digging through dirt and rubble in the early hours of the morning.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has called for a thorough search and is expected to visit the site late on Friday.
Minister of Local Government Development Nga Kor Ming told local media that the campground had been operating illegally for the past two years. The operator has been approved by the government to run an organic farm but does not have a license for camping activities, he said. If convicted, Russia warned camp operators could face up to three years in prison and a fine.
Some families with rescued young children took shelter at a nearby police station. Survivors said they heard a loud thunderclap before the ground collapsed.
Luong Kim ManhThe 57-year-old, was quoted by the English-language New Straits Times as saying he and his family were awakened by a loud bang that “sounded like an explosion” and felt the earth move.
“My family and I were trapped when the ground covered our tent. We tried to escape to a parking area and heard a second landslide was happening,” he told the newspaper. He said he was very surprised because there had been no heavy rain these days, only light drizzle.
The campground is located on an organic farm not far from the hill resort of Genting Highlands, a popular tourist destination with Malaysia’s only casino and theme parks. Entrances to the roads leading to the area have been cordoned off. Authorities have halted outdoor recreational activities in Batang Kali.
Russia, the local government development minister, said all campsites across the country located by rivers, waterfalls and hillsides will be closed for a week to assess their safety amid the project. Heavy rain is expected in the next few days. Malaysia is currently going through the end of the year monsoon rains.


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