Landslide Buries Campsite, Killing at Least 16

17 missing in Malaysia disaster
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2022 4:21 AM CST
Landslide Kills at Least 16 at Malaysia Campsite
Survivors walk down a hill during rescue and evacuation operations following a landslide at a campsite in Batang Kali, Selangor state, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Dec. 16, 2022.   (Korporat JBPM via AP)

A landslide early Friday at a hillside tourist campground in Malaysia left 16 people dead and authorities said 17 others were feared buried at the site on an organic farm outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur. An estimated 94 people, all Malaysians, were sleeping at the campsite in Batang Kali in central Selangor state, around 31 miles north of Kuala Lumpur, when the incident occurred, said district police chief Suffian Abdullah. He said the death toll has risen to 16, including a 5-year-old boy. Seven people have been hospitalized with injuries and rescuers are searching for the estimated 17 missing people, he said. Another 53 people were rescued unharmed.

Suffian said the victims had entered the area, a popular recreational site for locals to pitch or rent tents from the farm, on Wednesday, the AP reports. More than 400 personnel, including tracking dogs, are involved in the search and rescue efforts. The Selangor fire department said firefighters began arriving at the scene half an hour after receiving a distress call at 2:24am. The landslide fell from the side of a road from an estimated height of 98 feet and covered an area of about three acres. The fire department posted photos of rescuers with flashlights digging through soil and rubble in the early hours of the morning.

Some families with young children who were rescued took refuge at a nearby police station. Survivors said they heard a loud thundering noise before the soil came crashing down. Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming told local media that the campsite has been operating illegally for the past two years. The operator has government approval to run an organic farm but has no license for camping activities, he said. Nga said all campsites nationwide that are situated by rivers, waterfalls, and hillsides will be closed for a week to assess their safety amid forecasts of downpours in the next few days. Malaysia is currently experiencing year-end monsoon rains. (Read more landslide stories.)

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