Most likely cause of fatal Penang landslide identified

People gather at the site of the landslide at Paya Terubong in George Town October 21, 2018. — Bernama pic
People gather at the site of the landslide at Paya Terubong in George Town October 21, 2018. — Bernama pic

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GEORGE TOWN, Oct 21 — Water flow from a stream on the hilly area at Jalan Bukit Kukus, Paya Terubong near here is identified as among the cause of the landslide there last Friday, according to the Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG).

The department’s director for Perlis, Kedah and Penang, Azhari Ahmad, said the finding was made based on its inspection and monitoring since yesterday.

“The JMG team which arrived at the location (of the landslide) yesterday morning conducted an observation and identified several factors that caused the landslide, resulting in all containers on the hill slope to slide down with the earth.

“The main factor that caused the land slide is the water flow from a stream near the slope and heavy rain since Friday morning caused the water to overflow,” he told reporters at the location here today.

He said the department had taken immediate measure by diverting the flow of water from the stream elsewhere to avoid worsening the situation, especially during the search and rescue (SAR) operation.

Azhari said further inspection conducted at 7.30am today found the water flow on the slope was less, but the department would continue to monitor the situation with the help of equipment from the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to ensure the safety of the SAR personnel.

He said based on observation and inspection at the scene, the department found the location of the landslide to be at the concave slope which easily collected water.

“But we do not rule out the possibility of follow-up landslide in the area due to the soil structure and there is still water flowing that can cause landslide.

“We have also advised the rescue team to stop operation immediately if it rains as it could cause another landslide to happen which could be dangerous to them,” he added.

He said the department was currently assisting the rescue team in the SAR operation and did not rule out the possibility of it conducting further investigation to determine the actual cause of the landslide.

“We hope for fine weather and no rain so that the SAR operation can be continued until all the victims are found,” he said.

The landslide, which occurred at 1.56pm last Friday, has killed four foreign workers and injured three others, with five people still missing and feared to have been buried alive.

The tragedy occurred following heavy rain in the state since Thursday afternoon until noon the following day, causing the landslide at the container and kongsi area at the Bukit Kukus paired road construction site.

Two bodies were recovered on Friday, that of Indonesian national Samsul Asman, 19, and Bangadesh worker Attrul, 35, while the bodies of Myanmar woman Khin Aye Khaing, 33, and Indonesian Bahtiar, 36, were recovered yesterday at 1.30am and 11.55am, respectively. — Bernama

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