Landslide kills Malaysia orphans

 

Two landslides that hit a Malaysian orphanage killed 15 boys and one adult, police said today.

District police chief Abdul Rashid Wahab said the bodies of 15 boys, aged eight to 18, and a 34-year-old caretaker had been recovered.

Six boys and three wardens who were critically injured in yesterday’s landslides have been taken to hospital, he said.

Mr Wahab said the last rescued victim, a nine-year-old boy, was pulled out nearly eight hours after tons of earth crashed through the orphanage for ethnic Malay Muslim boys in a village in central Selangor state.

Though it was not raining when the landslides occurred yesterday afternoon, wet weather in the past few days was the likely cause, he said.

The 25 people buried by the landslides were among 49 who were attending a motivational camp at the orphanage, he said. Most of the boys were orphans, but details were still unclear.

“They just had lunch at the tent by the side of the house when two landslides apparently occurred seconds after each other,” Abdul Rashid said.

“The tent collapsed, burying 25 people as they did not have time to escape.”

Mohamad Hambali Ismail, a warden at the orphanage, told local media that the children were preparing to receive visitors when the earth shook.

“I heard a loud noise. Suddenly the earth was chasing me. I had to run to save myself,” Mr Hambali (34) told the Malay-language Berita Harian newspaper.

A heavy downpour after the landslides hampered rescue operations by some 200 firefighters, police and others.

“Rescuers have to dig through 14 feet of sludge using their hands and other equipment because the soil surrounding is very soft due to the rain,” Mr Wahab said, adding that the last body was retrieved more than 14 hours after the landslides.

The Selangor state government has ordered an investigation into the safety of hillsides in the area.

Agencies