Search resumes for 12 missing in Malaysia landslide

Search resumes for 12 missing in Malaysia landslide

BATANG KALI, Malaysia (AP) – Rescue workers with sniffer dogs and excavators combed through rubble and mud on Saturday in search of a dozen people believed to have been buried in a landslide in Malaysia that killed 21 others, including five children , died.

Authorities said 94 people were sleeping in an unlicensed campground at an organic farm early Friday when dirt fell from a road about 30 meters (100 feet) above the site, covering about 1 hectare (3 acres). Most were families enjoying a short break during the school holidays at the end of the year.

A total of 21 bodies were recovered, including five children and 12 women. A mother and her baby daughter were found hugging in a heartbreaking scene, rescuers said.

Seven people were hospitalized and dozens more, including three Singaporeans, were rescued unharmed. The search at the farm in the central state of Selangor was suspended for a few hours due to overnight rain and resumed early Saturday for another 12 people who were still missing.

Rescuers wore helmets, shovels and other gear and worked in teams to comb through debris to a depth of eight meters (26 feet). Backhoes were used and some worked with rescue dogs to sniff out possible signs of life and bodies. Officials said an estimated 450,000 cubic meters (nearly 16 million cubic feet) of debris – enough to fill 180 Olympic-size swimming pools – hit the campground.

Authorities said the landowners were not licensed to operate a campground. Officials are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the landslide, which came without warning, but believed it could be due to underground water movement while year-end monsoon rains made the ground unstable.

Survivors who recounted their ordeal told local media they heard a thunderous sound and felt the earth move before earth fell on their tents. The government has ordered nationwide that all campsites near rivers, waterfalls and hills will be closed for a week to review their safety.

The campsite at Batang Kali, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, is a popular getaway for locals to set up or rent tents on the farm. But authorities said it had been running illegally for the past two years. It has permission to operate the farm but no license to operate camping activities. If found guilty, the operator faces up to three years in prison and a fine.


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