Rescuers on Saturday discovered the bodies of a mother and her son, bringing the total number of fatalities from a Malaysian campsite landslide to 23, with 10 more still unaccounted for.
The two bodies were buried beneath three feet (one meter) of mud and debris, Selangor State Fire Chief Norazam Khamis told reporters. He claimed there was a tiny chance of discovering survivors if they clung to heaps, twigs, or rocks with air pockets.
The dirt fell from a road about 30 meters (100 feet) above them. According to authorities, it blanketed an area of roughly 1 hectare early on Friday, when 94 people were sleeping at the campsite on an organic farm (3 acres). Most were families taking a quick getaway on the end-of-year school break.
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13 women and six children were among the 23 victims. Authorities were still doing autopsies and awaiting the victims’ next of kin to provide identification.
Rescuers reported finding a mother and her toddler daughter clutching each other on Friday. Numerous others, including three Singaporeans, were safely rescued, while seven others were taken to the hospital.
Rescuers combed through the wreckage up to 8 meters deep on Saturday while wearing helmets, shovels, and other tools (26 feet). Rescue dogs were dispatched to search for possible signs of life and corpses as excavators were used to cleaning the muck and fallen trees. According to authorities, the campsite was hit by an estimated 450,000 cubic meters (almost 16 million cubic feet) of debris, enough to fill 180 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
According to Norazam, rescuers were cautious because underground water streams could cause more landslides.
According to the authorities, the landowners lacked the necessary permits to operate a campground. The landslide, which occurred suddenly, has no known reason, but officials speculate that it may have been caused by underground water movement when the year-end monsoon rains left the soil unstable.
Local media reported by survivors that before the ground collapsed on their tents, they felt the earth move and heard a loud noise. All campgrounds close to rivers, waterfalls, or hillsides must be closed for a week while the government evaluates their safety.
Locals frequently pitch tents at the campsite in Batang Kali, around 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, or hire tents from the farm. But according to the authorities, it has been operating unlawfully for the past two years. Although it has permission to manage the farm, it is not authorized to conduct camping operations. The operator could spend up to three years in jail and pay a fine if found guilty.