Tragedy on the Slopes

on Sunday, December 07, 2008

Malaysia has suffered three major landslides in the last week. The first was a landslide that killed two young sisters in their sleep and damaged a couple of houses. Then on Thursday, there was a spectacular landslide affecting the car park of a major bank located in a posh commercial district of Kuala Lumpur. In this incident, no one was killed but 11 cars were seriously damaged or destroyed. Casualties and deaths may have occurred if the landslide was just 15 minutes later when a lot of workers would have finished work for the day and would have been in the car park on their way home. Finally, just this Saturday morning at about 4 in the morning, a large part of the hillslope at Bukit Antarabangsa just gave way, sweeping as much as 14 houses on its lower slopes. This time, as many as 4 have died and some are still missing. This latest incident is just a stone throw away from the site of the Highland Towers tragedy of 1993 when a highrise condominium came crashing down due to a landslide and killed 48.

Heavy rain was a major factor. The monsoon rains in Malaysia used to be light to moderate heavy but could continue for a few days. Today due to global warming and local changes in the micro-climate, we seem to be experiencing shorter but far more heavy and violent downpours.

The second factor has been the continued building on unstable and steep hillslopes and hilltops despite numerous calls, promises and directions from politicians to stop allowing those types of developments in the wake of previous landslide tragedies. After yesterday's landslide, the Prime Minister again called for no more developments on risky hillslopes. Will this time be different? Will we learn our lesson or forget it within a week and return to business as usual?

This series of incidences also hit close to home. If you look at the first photo below and specifically at the half-buried car on the left.......... well, my wife had parked our car just one parking lot to the left and in front. God was gracious and I got away with nothing more than a mud covered car, a broken tail-light and a very excited wife. But 11 cars were either seriously damaged or destroyed.

I do hope that this latest in a string of landslide tragedies will finally put a stop to developments on unstable and steep slopes. Unfortunately, many Malaysians would consider me an optimist rather than a realist cause they have seen this too many times before.

Landslide in Bank Parking Lot

Closer view of damaged cars

Major landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa

Houses damaged in Landslide.

All Photos by The Star Online


Marja said...

wow what a dramatic pictures. Mother nature has no remorse, no petty. Hard for all people involved. Bless you

Joyce's Ramblings said...

Nature is so powerful and yet we don't learn.
Glad your wife is okey and the car wasn't damaged too much. God does protect.

Ruth W. said...

Mother Nature never forgives does she? So glad God was watching over your wife Calvin.

geewits said...

It's always amazed me that humans even inhabit monsoon areas, but they do. I'm glad your wife was unharmed.

the walking man said...

It would seem that no amount of loss of life or property is enough for them who develop in the face of knowledge of the gravity and top soil work.

Them that build need to be held accountable, even more so than them that buy.

kat said...

how tragic!

and WoW, the power of Earth!

On a limb with Claudia said...

wow, I had no idea. I'm so very sorry. This kind of thing feels so unpredictable and painful.

MedStudentWife said...

oh my !!! Thank goodness your dear is alright - but I'm sure she (and you) are still shaking.

We have Leda clay issues here & they snuck upon us in the Quebec Gatineau area not that many months ago.. and I shouldnt say snuck up in that the builder knew what they were building on - the homeowners did not fully understand the implications of the risks of what they were buying (so I understand)

tsduff said...

Disasters like those are horrendous to try to comprehend. Very hard to understand - why some are taken and others are spared. I am sad for those that lost loved ones.

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