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Major landslide hits camping site in Malaysia, leaving dozens dead and missing

Major landslide hits camping site in Malaysia, leaving dozens dead and missing

A major landslide hit a campsite at a location known as Father’s Organic Farm in Genting Highlands, Malaysia — about 50 km (31 miles) N of Kuala Lumpur — on December 16, 2022. The cause of the landslide is not clear at the moment as there had been only light rain in the area.

According to initial reports, there were at least 94 people registered at the site when the incident happened, including 30 children.

The latest reports mention a total of 61 people are safe. Unfortunately, rescuers confirmed 16 fatalities and there are still at least 17 people unaccounted for.

The event took place at 02:42 LT while many people were sleeping in their tents.

“I heard a loud sound like thunder, but it was the rocks falling,” a 22-year-old camper Teh Lynn Xuan told Berita Harian daily.1

“We felt the tents becoming unstable and soil was falling around us. Luckily, I was able to leave the tent and go to someplace safer. My mother and I managed to crawl out and save ourselves.”

The landslide came down from an estimated height of 30 m (98 feet) above the campsite, and covered an area of about 1.2 ha (3 acres), according to the fire and rescue department’s state director.

YouTube video

“To be in tents that are struck by a high mobility landslide in the dark is true horror,” Dr. Dave Petley of The Landslide Blog noted.2

“It appears to me that the slopes both above and below the road have been engineered. The videos indicate that the slope above the road remains intact, but the slope below the road has failed. The 2002 Google Earth image would seem to indicate that the slope was terraced. I wonder if this was a fill slope, and that the fill has failed to generate the landslide.  This would explain the location, the dynamics and the impact of the landslide.”

Image credit: Google Earth, Dr. Dave Petley
Image credit: Google Earth, Dr. Dave Petley

“JKR Malaysia Slope Engineering branch has responsibility for analyzing these types of events, and a team is reported to be on site today. I am sure we will see a full interpretation of the causes of this landslide in due course. Meanwhile, the recovery work will continue, but sadly the likelihood of further successful rescues seems low.”

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. If found guilty, Nga warned the camp operator could face up to three years in jail and a fine.3

Update:

As of December 20, a total of 94 people were affected — 61 persons were rescued alive, 24 were found dead, and 9 persons are still missing, according to NADMA Malaysia.

References:

1 Malaysia rescuers race to find survivors of deadly campsite landslide – Reuters – December 16, 2022

2 A major, deadly landslide in Genting Highlands, Malaysia – The Landslide Blog – December 16, 2022

3 Landslide at Malaysia campground leaves 16 dead, 17 missing – AP – December 16, 2022

Featured image credit: KPKT Malaysia

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