A landslide has claimed the lives of at least 21 people, including 5 children, after a torrent of mud slammed into a campsite Friday night in the town of Batang Kali, Malaysia, where another 12 remain missing.
At least 7 people have been hospitalized while fortunately, others were able to walk away from the debris amid the ongoing rescue at an organic farm, where more than 90 people were sleeping on the unlicensed campground at the time of the landslide, according to the Associated Press.
Dirt tumbled from the road about 100 feet above the campsite, covering around three acres of land with an estimated 16 million cubic feet of rubble, which was around 26 feet deep, the outlet reports.
More than 400 rescuers worked through the night with excavators, shovels and tracking dogs, AP adds.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Norazam Khamis told local reporters the 17th and 18th bodies found were believed to be a mother and daughter. Heartbreakingly they were found hugging each other, he said according to the Malay Mail.
Camper Leong Jim Meng, 57, told the New Straits Times that the landslide “sounded like an explosion” and was a surprise as there hadn’t been much heavy rain lately.
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Two campsite workers and Myanmar nationals recounted escaping from the tragedy to Reuters after they were woken by neighbors minutes before the farmhouse was destroyed.
“I have never seen such a horrible incident. I feel so shocked and terrified,” Thawng Uk, 35, told Reuters. “We could bring nothing at all as we urgently ran … We are asking around where to get shelter and food.”
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His coworker Kung Tuang, 31, added that they were afraid of losing their jobs after the farm was destroyed.
Although the owner of the land was approved by the government to run an organic farm, but was not permitted to run a campsite, according to BBC News. If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years and fined up to 50,000 ringgit ($11,318).
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim visited the site of the tragedy on Friday, announcing a special payment to survivors and family members of victims.
“My sadness and condolences to the families of the victims involved. My deepest condolences to them,” Ibrahim said in a statement shared on Facebook.