Malaysian police have called in staff members from an unlicensed campsite to assist in an investigation into a landslide that flattened the campgrounds and killed at least 24 people.
According to the Selangor state fire and rescue department, at least 24 individuals, including seven children, died after a landslide tore through the campsite early on Friday while they slept in campsite tents at Batang Kali, a popular hilly area about 50km (30 miles) north of capital Kuala Lumpur.
A total of 94 people were caught in the landslide in Kualalumpur, Malaysia. 61 were safe and nine still missing, the rescue team reported.
The search and rescue teams have increased the number of diggers and rescue dogs in the hope to find campers who may be trapped under mud and debris, however, heavy rain raises concerns of further landslides.
While addressing to media, Hulu Selangor police chief Suffian Abdullah said police have questioned the operator and two workers of the campsite at Father’s Organic Farm.
Authorities claimed that the owners were allowed to operate organic farms, but had not applied for licenses to run three campsites on the same property.
Meanwhile, authorities are waiting for the farm owners to respond to a request for comment.
“Our hearts are closely connected with you, may the deceased rest in peace… Pray for the survivors and the injured,” it said on Facebook in a statement addressing victims and their families.
State fire and rescue chief Norazam Kham on Saturday said, there is a very slim chance to find more survivors given the lack of oxygen and the weight of mud pressing down on the site.
The initial investigation showed a large mound of stone of around 450,000 cubic meters had collapsed and fallen from an estimated height of 30 meters (100 ft) and covered an area of about an acre (0.4 hectares).
The family of 31-year-old Nurul Azwani Kamarulzaman on Saturday night, who died in the tragedy, grieved as they held her funeral at a graveyard in Kuala Lumpur.
A kitchen helper at a school canteen named Nurul Azwani, is scheduled to return on Friday, the day of the disaster. She was on a two-night trip with teachers and students.
“We never expected a natural disaster to happen,” her brother-in-law, Mohd Shazwan Ashraf Mohamad Saberi, told Reuters. “We are still unable to process this.”
In Malaysia, landslides are frequent but usually only happen after a lot of rain. Flooding is also much more frequent, with approximately 21,000 people being uprooted by heavy rains in seven states last year.