Death toll from Malaysia campsite landslip rises to 24, nine missing

A rescuer crew member pats a sniffer dog being used to aid in the search for victims of the landslide in Batang Kali, Selangor, Malaysia, on December 17, 2022

A rescuer crew member pats a sniffer dog being used to aid in the search for victims of the landslide in Batang Kali, Selangor, Malaysia, on December 17, 2022
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Rescue teams searching for survivors from a landslip that tore though a campsite in Malaysia recovered the bodies of a woman and two children on Saturday, officials said, raising the death toll to 24.

The landslip in Batang Kali, a popular hilly area about 50 km (30 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, flattened the unlicensed campsite early on Friday while people slept in their tents. Those killed included seven children.

Of the 94 people caught in the slide, 61 were safe and nine still missing, according to the Selangor state fire and rescue department.

State fire and rescue chief Norazam Khamis said chances of more survivors being found were slim, given the weight of mud pressing down on the site.

Search and rescue operations resumed for a second day earlier on Saturday, after a halt overnight due to heavy rains.

A total of 135 responders and seven rescue dogs resumed scouring through thick mud and downed trees around 8.30 a.m. (0030 GMT) with the assistance of excavators, Mr. Norazam told reporters.

An initial investigation showed an embankment of about 4,50,000 cubic metres of earth had collapsed. The earth fell from an estimated height of 30 metres (100 ft) and covered an area of about an acre (0.4 hectares).

Survivors are in stable condition and will also receive trauma counselling, said Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Friday the government would provide 10,000 ringgit ($2,260) in aid to families of every person killed, while survivors would receive 1,000 ringgit per household.

Following the disaster, the Forestry Department in several states ordered the closure of campsites and hiking and off-road trails considered as high risk.

Landslips are common in Malaysia, but typically only after heavy rains. Flooding occurs often, with about 21,000 people displaced last year by torrential rain in seven States.

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