Malaysia landslide: Campsite operators face losses, search continues for seven still missing

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Campsite operators are facing cancellations and losses after last Friday’s landslide that killed at least 26 at a recreational site near Genting Highlands.

A campsite operator, Ros, said bookings at her premises went down by at least 30 percent since the incident, causing her business to suffer more than RM6,000 (US$1,352) in losses to date.

“Even though our premises are located about 9 km away from the landslide location, we’re already getting cancellation requests for the bookings we received for the last week of December and onwards,” she said.

“We don’t blame them for cancelling, but since this is our source of income and a peak season for us, we hope the government and authorities can help manage public fear,” she said.

She added that she is sending her staff to monitor the landslide site as well as her own premises daily, and also speaks to the authorities every day since the incident.

“We want to be proactive if anything happens, including more landslides. It’s not just about dollars and cents, safety is our utmost priority, and whatever happened to Father’s Organic Farm is beyond its control, as the landslide happened some kilometers away from the place,” she said.

Another campsite operator, Yus, said: “Yes, our business is deeply affected even though we’re 17 km away, but there is no way we can avoid it.

For now, the bookings that have been cancelled from Friday to the first week of January 2023 are worth about RM9,000.”

Last Friday, the Malaysian government ordered a blanket ban on all camping activities in the country for a week, after the incident at the Father’s Organic Farm campsite in Batang Kali, Selangor. The camping area was unlicensed.

Meanwhile, the 25th and 26th bodies, a man and a child, were retrieved on Wednesday, even as the search and rescue (SAR) team still looks for seven missing victims.

The authorities said a total of 94 people were caught in the landslide, with 61 of them managing to scramble out to safety.

Twenty-nine of the 94 victims were children, but the total number of children killed has yet to be confirmed.

Police have questioned 53 individuals as they investigate the cause of the disaster, Malaysia media reported on Tuesday.

Selangor police chief Arjunaidi Mohamed was quoted as saying that police have taken statements from the operator of the campsite and two of his employees, as well as from survivors and their families.

Yus said: “Since we’re not allowed to help with the search and rescue mission, we try to prepare some food and water for the rescuers, but not daily. It’s the only thing we can do at the moment with our limited resources.”

The Selangor government is formulating guidelines for camping activities and identifying environmentally sensitive areas that are unsuitable or too risky for recreational activities, in an effort to prevent such tragedies in future.

Local government, public transport and new village development committee chairman Ng Sze Han will also identify the number of campsites, adding that the authorities will monitor such activities which are usually carried out as a side business by hotels or resort owners.




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