Sg Labau Mudslide: Heavy Machinery Needed In Search For Missing Eight

Jalikah Malingkul, an Orang Dusun and wife of Abdul, was wept more than 3km downstream Sungai Labau and was rescued by villagers who sent her to the Pinangah health clnic on Saturday morning. The doctor there raised the alarm of the mudside tragedy. – Photo credit BorneoToday reader

KOTA KINABALU: The search and rescue (SAR) team looking for seven missing victims, believed swept away by the mud flood in a landslide incident at Sen Fu Oil Palm Estate in Tongod, Kinabatangan, last Saturday, requires heavy machinery to ease the operation at the search location.

Malaysia Civil Defence Force (APM) Sabah director, Col Mulliadi Al-Hamdi said from the observation made by the team, they were in dire need of heavy machinery to lift the timber logs that had been swept away by the mud flood and to remove the collapsed structures of the victim’s (estate worker) house.

He said the SAR team from APM also faced the challenge of rain, although light, and had to walk for a distance of seven kilometres to reach the location, with a number of connecting roads severely damaged.

“Besides heavy machinery, the services of the canine or K-9 unit are also needed as an alternative measure to smoothen the SAR operation.

A firewoman and colleagues forced to walk in their search and rescue mission for the eight missing persons as log and rock debris prevent vehicles from going through. – Photo credit BOMBA Sabah

“This is for detecting victims stuck or trapped underneath the piles of logs, tree trunks or collapsed structures of the house,” he said in a statement, here, Monday.

Mulliadi said five members of Keningau APM were involved in the SAR operation to assist the other rescue teams in carrying out the operation which entered the third day Monday.

In the incident on April 1, the house of an estate worker was swept away by a mud flood in a landslide incident following heavy rain the day before.

A rescuer looking under piles of wood that was once a ‘kongsi’ for the workers of an oil palm estate in Tongod. It was destroyed in a mudslide early Saturday morning.

Three of the 11 occupants are safe while eight others including three children are still missing and feared trapped underneath piles of logs and debris or swept away by the river nearby.

According to a spokesman, others involved in the SAR include a 17-member Special Tactical Operation Rescue Malaysia (STORM) team, eight members of the Multi-Skill Team (MUST), a 10-member Sandakan Zone Water Rescue Team (PPDA) and 10 personnel from the Keningau Fire and Rescue Station were carrying out the SAR operation in the Sungai Labou area.

The three who survived the incident were Jalikah Malingkul, 50, who was found three km away from the scene, while her husband Abdul, 50 and their son Joshnam, 18, were found close to the river bank.

The eight missing victims were identified by police only as Asma, 36, Ana, 16, Titiwana, 12, Alisan, 8, (all female), Sabril, 10, Alan, 11, Johati, 11, and Azril, 6 (all male).