Batang Kali Landslide: Malaysian Geotechnical Society Offers Help

Photo courtesy of Facebook of Minister of Local Government Development, Nga Kor Ming.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 – The disastrous landslide in Batang Kali must have a comprehensive investigation carried out to determine the cause of the landslide with input from different experts ranging from geotechnical engineers, geologists, hydrologists and the findings must be made public.

The Malaysian Geotechnical Society MGS) in a statement today said it was concerned about the various “causes” of the landslides being reported in the media as these will further confuse the public.

While some landslides are natural occurrences on hill slopes and pose danger to the human life and damage infrastructures in their vicinity, they could be avoided or at least mitigated with proper engineering, said MGS.

Such infrastructures should be assessed by qualified and experienced geotechnical engineers and in the event such risks are unavoidable, the population element at risk should be informed and educated on what is needed to handle the risk should an incident happen, said MGS

MGS also offered to provide technical assistance from its pool of expert members in slope engineering and provide views and opinions in the investigation and to advise possible improvements to the existing guidelines on slope management.

“With the majority of our members being specialist geotechnical engineers and affiliated to several international engineering organizations, MGS is recognised locally and internationally as the learned society representing the geotechnical fraternity in Malaysia,” the statement read.

MGS also conveyed its condolences to the families of victims who perished in the landslide.

The Batang Kali landslide has cost the lives of 23 people while another 10 people remain missing as of Saturday.

The landslide in Selangor state bordering the capital, Kuala Lumpur, occurred before 3 a.m. (1900 GMT), tearing down a hillside into an organic farm that was reportedly operating the campsite illegally.

In the predawn incident yesterday, nearly half a million cubic metres of soil slid down a slope that started tilting downwards from the edge of the Batang Kali-Genting Highlands trunk road, otherwise known as Route B66, a road maintained by the Selangor state government.

According to the police, the 2.24am landslide swept through the site that hosted three separate camping grounds at various levels of the hilly area surrounding Father’s Organic Farm, which had given names to the camping sites such as the River Farm campsite, the Farm View campsite and Hilltop campsite.

The area affected by the landslide was said to cover around 1.21ha.

It was understood that at least 94 people had been camping at the recreational area that offered visitors the chance to see how an organic farm worked, other than indulging in outdoor activities such as trekking and wading through mountain streams. According to witnesses, the landslide came in two waves, with the first at 2.24am, followed by another a while later.

Edited by Bhavani Krishna Iyer