Batang Kali Landslide: SAR officially ends today with final victim found Saturday

Tracker dogs with rescue personnel during SAR operations at the Batang Kali landslide site. Photo courtesy of Royal Malaysia Police Facebook/Photographer: Lans Corporal Muhammad Aizat Afiq Kamarudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 – The search and rescue operations at the Batang Kali’s landslide site ended at noon today with only technical issues to be pursued, with the finding of the last victim on Saturday, police have said.

National news agency BERNAMA reported today that the police will be looking only into technical details, having confirmed that there were no more casualties and that Saturday’s recovery of the 31st victim, a boy, was the final victim.

The SAR mission began soon after the landslide at the Father’s Organic Farm Camping Site in the early morning hours of Friday, Dec 16.

According to a posting on the Royal Malaysia Facebook, the ninth day of rescue operation started as early as 7.30 am and was concentrated in Sector A (Hillview) with various assets from related agencies including the police and 10 tracking dogs.

The search and rescue mission at the Batang Kali landslide site saw nine days of tireless efforts of personnel from various agencies coming together to search for any survivors. It was a heartbreaking time for many, both onlookers and the pesonnel involved as only the bodies of the missing were recovered over the nine days. Photograph courtesy of RMP Facebook.

The last victim was recovered around 5pm by the SAR team. The body was taken to the Forensic Department of Hospital Sungai Buloh. This also raised the number of children and infants who died in the tragedy to 13.

A total of 61 people were rescued while another 18 adults tragically lost their lives in the landslide, said to be the worst in the country this year.

Many Malaysians expressed their grief over the tragic landslide that took the lives of the campers who would have been fast asleep when the incident happened. While there had been hope during the early hours of search and rescue mission, for the more than the 30 victims who remained unaccounted for following the landslide, this slowly vanished as their bodies were recovered over the nine-day period. Sixty one of them were rescued.

While investigations are expected to continue to find the cause of the landslide, the National Disaster Management Agency together with various government agencies including the personnel of police, the Civil Defense Force of Malaysia carried out a tireless search and rescue mission for the nine days following the landslide.

The landslide, which occurred along the Batang Kali-Genting Highlands road near Gohtong Jaya, exposed as well as raised several issues. These included the fact that the camping site had no operating license, its location close to a steep slope and the question of safety of similar areas in the country amid the current monsoon season, which will bring heavy rain, and along with it the inevitable floods and landslides.

Environmentalists meanwhile continue to issue caution against improper development, poor planning along sensitive areas and the consequences that they could bring.