Landslide off Genting: Campsite operating without licence; death toll rises to 18

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At least 18 people were killed and around 15 others feared trapped after a landslide hit a campsite near Genting Highlands on Friday, the Malaysian authorities said.

The Ministry of Local Government Development said on Twitter that 61 people have been rescued from the campsite at Father’s Organic Farm in the Batang Kali area, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.

Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said the campsite was operating illegally without a required license.

He said the site operators had obtained permission for only farming organic vegetable crops. No approval for camping activities was given by the local authorities.

“I have instructed 155 local councils to check and vacate all the campsites along the high-risk areas including waterfall, river and hillside areas,” he said, adding that the penalties may amount to a RM50,000 fine and a prison term of up to three years.

Visiting the site, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail asked for a halt to all camping activities until further notice.

“We are asking all organizers of camping sites around here not to accept any more visitors for the time being,” he told reporters, noting that camping activities are popular during the school holidays.

Among those confirmed dead were three children, including a five-year-old boy, seven women and two men, said Selangor Chief Minister Amirudin Shari.

Hulu Selangor district police chief Suffian Abdullah said most of the 94 victims were local residents including workers at the campsite.

Among those rescued were 20 teachers and their families from Chinese primary school Mun Choong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Berita Harian daily quoted an official from the school as saying.

Those rescued were taken to a police station in Selangor, with three Singaporeans among those saved, according to Malaysian daily China Press.

The campsite is located in Jalan Batang Kali-Jalan Genting Highlands, less than 15km away from the peak of Genting Highlands.

The camp, located about 4.5km or a 10-minute drive from Gohtong Jaya, a town below the Genting Highlands peak, is en route to the popular travel destination that houses a casino and theme park.

It offers eco-tourism packages including educational guides on organic vegetable farming.

Roads to the site have been shut to allow easier access for trucks ferrying tractors and personnel for rescue operations.

“All the victims are believed to have entered last Wednesday to carry out camping activities,” Chief Superintendent Suffian said on Friday.

He noted that the Fire and Rescue Department has brought in K-9 dogs units in the search for the remaining victims.

Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the landslide at the farm was due to a slope failure involving 450,000 cubic m of soil.

“This involves the slope which is 500m in length, 200m wide and 8m deep,” he said at the landslide site.

Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he was shocked by news of the landslide and had instructed the government departments to conduct the search and rescue mission in an orderly and systematic manner.

He said that he plans to visit the accident site.

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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