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Batang Kali Landslide is the 2nd Worst Disaster in M’sia, After the Highland Towers’ Collapse in 1993


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Source: Astro Awani & Berita Harian

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The end of December is usually remembered as the festive season for many Malaysians, but unfortunately, the victims of the Batang Kali landslide are not able to feel the same following the disaster that has robbed multiple lives. 

The landslide happened on December 16, and with the efforts of the rescue team, the body of the final victim was finally found on December 24, just a day before Christmas. In total, the landslide claimed 31 lives, and some of them were only kids.

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According to the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, the landslide at Father’s Organic Farm is the second-worst disaster in terms of fatalities that has ever struck Malaysia. In case you’re wondering what’s the worst disaster that happened in our country, we’ll have to wind the clock back to 1993 when another landslide in KL claimed more souls.

Welcome (back) to the now-abandoned Highland Towers.

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Highland Tower was built in phases between 1974 and 1982, and it comprised 3 identical 12-story blocks. Part of the residents at the luxury condominium was expatriates.

Block 1 collapsed on December 11, 1993, following the continuous rainfall over the course of 2 weeks which caused a landslide, and the heavy rainfall burst the diversion pipes.

Here’s how it happened

A project for Bukit Antarabangsa Development Project just behind Highland Towers began in 1991, and it cause a massive clearing of trees and ground cover. 

A pipe system was built to divert the water into an existing pipe system, which was also used to divert river water away from the Highland Towers. Water started to seep into the new construction tower, and unfortunately, the pipe system was not only overloaded with water but also sand and silt from the construction site. 

The prolonged heavy rainfall did not make things any better, and when the soil became muddy and pipes started to burst, the landslide happened and Block 1 collapsed around 1:30 pm on a Saturday.

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Tun Dr. Mahathir, who was the Prime Minister during the time declared the incident a national tragedy.

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The fate of the victims, and Blocks 2 & 3

The scale of the tragedy was so large that a number of over 500 manpower were needed. Rescue workers from multiple countries, including France and UK were brought in for help. Within the first 24 hours, only 3 people were found and rescued – 2 Indonesians including a toddler, and a Japanese.

Unfortunately, the Japanese national did not make it after the internal injuries from the collapse killed her.

The search for survivors ended on December 17 after no signs of life were shown. 5 days later, the rescue workers ceased the operation after 48 dead bodies were found. 

Following the collapse, Blocks 2 & 3 were immediately evacuated when rescue works were ongoing. There were plans to fix the remaining blocks, but further inspections have deemed the blocks to be unstable and rendered the place unfit for anyone to stay.

To date, Blocks 2 & 3 are still standing but no access to the public is allowed. However, the abandoned blocks have since become a “safe haven” for drug addicts and vandals.

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One year later, 6 residents filed lawsuits against the developers, which include AmBank and Ampang Jaya Municipal Council for negligence. However, 10 years later in 2004, the matter was settled outside the court after Ambank agreed to pay RM52 million to 139 residents and unit owners in Highland Towers, reported Astro Awani.

Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was the Deputy PM at that time urged for inspections of skyscrapers and condominiums to ensure the safety of future occupants, according to New Straits Times.

In 2011, another landslide occurred in Hulu Langat, Selangor, which struck an orphanage, and resulted in the death of 16 people. 13 of them were children.

The Highland Towers landslide happened 29 years ago, but the tragedy remains in the memory of many Malaysians, especially the nearby residents who witnessed the incident and live to tell the tale. Our prayers and condolences go to the family members of the victims of the disasters that have happened in Malaysia throughout the decades.


Also read: Batang Kali Landslide : RM10K For Every Deceased Victim & RM1K for All Surviving Victims, Says PM10

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Source: Astro Awani
Source: YouTube

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