21 May 2011

Breaking news – landslide in Malaysia partially buries an orphanage

Posted by Dave Petley

Various news agencies are carrying a story this afternoon of a landslide in Malaysia that has partially buried an orphanage in Hulu Langat, close to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Reports are confused as to the true impact, but local reports indicate that five children have been killed, six recovered injured and 10 children remain buried. Heavy rainfall appears to be the cause, and is hampering the rescue. In addition it will be dark in Malaysia now of course. The location is reported to be the Hidayah Madrasah al-Taqwa orphanage in Hulu Langat, which is to the south of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

This dreadful story will be a huge issue in Malaysia, where there is a very low level of tolerance of landslides amongst the population. A few years ago I acted as a technical advisor on a very comprehensive National Slope Masterplan for the Slope Engineering Division of the Public Works Department. This is exactly the sort of accident that the plan was designed to reduce, although clearly it takes time for the imlementation to and additional sections of the report focused on post-disaster response and recovery operations. Developing such a plan was a very bold move for Malaysia, and one hopes that it will have helped in this post-disaster period.