KUALA LUMPUR: Four people were killed after a massive landslide triggered by “unusual” heavy rains buried their homes in a township outside the Malaysian capital, a senior rescue official said Friday.
Malaysia has been experiencing heavy rains over the past few weeks, which officials and environmentalists say is unusual at this time of year and could be the result of climate change.
Norazam Khamis, the emergency services chief of Selangor state, said the landslide happened in the suburb of Ampang on Thursday.
Rescuers, backed by an earth-mover, recovered four dead bodies and a fifth person was rescued alive, Norazam added.
He said torrential rains lasting 30 minutes caused a nearby hill to erode, sending tonnes of soil mixed with water crashing down on a row of houses below.
“It happened so fast,” he told western media.
“The victims were found buried under about two meters of mud and they could not escape in time.”
The mudflow completely destroyed two houses and damaged almost a dozen other homes, local media reported. Ten vehicles were also damaged.
Norazam described the rains in Selangor, located outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, as “unusual” during what should be the dry season.
“Two to three years ago, it is usually hot during this period,” he said, adding that “climate change could be a contributing factor”.
Meenakshi Raman, president of environmental group Friends of the Earth, told western media that Malaysia faces more natural calamities.
“With the intensity and frequency of rainfalls we are seeing, we cannot rule out the role climate change is playing,” she said.
Flash floods hit the capital Kuala Lumpur a few days ago after a heavy downpour, turning roads into rivers, damaging hundreds of cars, and flooding houses.