KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — The fatal Highland Towers tragedy that happened 25 years ago in Ulu Klang, Selangor saw a whirlwind of rescue and search efforts in a desperate race against time to find survivors.
The tragedy saw Malaysians rise to the occasion even if the nation may have been unprepared for the collapse of a 12-storey condominium block, with many of them generously donating blood, food, and offering shelter, manpower or even their homes as rescue operation centres to help the landslide victims and rescuers.
(In fact, the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital collected three months’ worth of blood in about two days! Nothing was too small to offer: There was free nasi briyani, free soup, drinks and hotels offering free accommodation for residents.)
Foreign rescue workers poured in to work with the local rescuers despite safety concerns over the stability of two other neighbouring towers, while the federal government and Selangor state government also quickly swung into action.
In the end, only three were pulled out alive, with one of them later succumbing to injuries from the hillside building’s collapse.
Official records say 48 others died, including former deputy prime minister Datuk Musa Hitam’s son Carlos Rashid and the latter’s wife.
Over the years, the two remaining 12-storey blocks of Highland Towers, which were abandoned due to safety concerns have been stripped bare by looters, and also turned into a den for drug addicts and a hideout for criminals.
Can the government breathe new life into the Highland Towers site?
Here’s a recap of the major events relating to Highland Towers since the 1993 tragedy: