Malaysia landslide: At least 21 campers dead and more missing
At least 21 people including children have been killed after a landslide hit a holiday campsite in Malaysia’s Selangor state.
Families were sleeping in their tents when the landslide happened around 03:00 Friday (19:00 GMT Thursday) at a farm stay in Batang Kali township.
Hundreds of rescuers spent Friday digging through mud to find survivors.
The farm’s managers said at least 30 children and 51 adults were registered for an overnight stay.
Local media reported that Malaysian authorities said 14 people were still missing, and that about 700 officials were involved in the search and rescue.
The Malaysian fire department said at least four children were among the dead.
More than 20 primary school teachers and their family members were at the campsite, according to a New Straits Times report.
Malaysia’s fire and rescue department said a 30m (100ft) high slope impacted the campsite in “a terrible tragedy”. Government authorities noted that the landslide involved about 450,000 sq m of soil.
Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said the camping site had been operating illegally.
Mr Nga also said he ordered all “high-risk” camping sites – those located along rivers, waterfalls and hillsides – across Malaysia to be immediately closed for seven days.
Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi echoed the message, warning that the weather was expected to worsen in the coming days.
“We have to learn from what has happened today,” he said.
It is unclear what triggered the landslide, which happened in a forested, hilly area next to the side of the road in Batang Kali, close to the Genting Highland region.
Locals reported some light rain, but no heavy downpours or any earthquakes in the lead up to it. However, monsoon season is currently underway in Malaysia.
Pictures posted online by Malaysia’s rescue agencies showed crews of helmeted workers clambering up uneven ground, past uprooted trees and other debris.
One camper, Teh Lynn Xuan, said she and her mother had survived, but her brother had died and another brother had been injured and taken to hospital.
“We felt the tents becoming unstable and soil was falling around us,” she told Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian.
“My mother and I managed to crawl out and save ourselves.”
She said they had been camping with a big group of more than 40 people.
Another survivor, Leong Jim Meng, said he and his family were woken by an explosion before the ground began to shift.
They were briefly trapped in their tents by debris before managing to escape.
“It was too dark to see clearly what was happening,” he said.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was due to arrive at the site later on Friday, following visits from several other government ministers.
He offered condolences to the victims and prayers for more survivors on his Facebook page.