SAR operation resumes at landslide area


GEORGE TOWN – The search-and-rescue (SAR) operation resumed at 8 am on the fifth day today at the landslide at a road construction site in Paya Terubong where nine bodies have been recovered so far.

The SAR operation is concentrated on 15 per cent of the yet-to-be-moved landslide debris of the total 100,000 sq ft (9,290 sq metres) area of the landslide, according to Penang Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Mohamad Shoki Hamzah.

The SAR operation was postponed at 10 pm yesterday due to lack of sufficient light in the area to be worked on which is further away and steeper, he said to Bernama, and added that this posed a danger to the rescue workers and the possibility of the heavy machinery toppling over.

The landslide occurred at 1.56 pm last Friday at the construction site of the Bukit Kukus dual carriageway, burying 13 kongsis and containers used as makeshift quarters for the migrant construction workers.

Up to yesterday, nine bodies were recovered from the rubble, all of the migrant workers – five Bangladeshi men, three Indonesian men and one Myanmar woman.

Four migrant workers were injured in the tragedy, two of them Indonesian women, one a Cambodian woman and one a Bangladeshi man identified as Shamim who is still in intensive care at the Penang Hospital. 

One more Bangladeshi man, identified as Md Rahaz, is reported to be missing and is feared to have been buried alive in the debris.

Mohamad Shoki said he hoped that the debris at the 15 per cent of the landslide can be moved today to facilitate the SAR operation for the last person believed to be buried in the rubble.

He also said that the SAR operation is dependent on the weather because rain can cause earth movement which can trigger further landslides.

About 100 rescue officers and men are involved in the SAR operation, including the fire and rescue service, police, SMART team, National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA), Mineral and Geoscience Department, Health Ministry medical teams and Civil Defence Force.