GEORGE TOWN: The K9 Tracker Dog Unit (K9) of the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department has identified at least three locations where the remaining missing victims are believed to be buried in the landslide at Jalan Bukit Kukus, Paya Terubong, near here.
Timur Laut district police chief ACP Che Zaimani Che Awang said the sniffer dogs had identified three locations at sector one and two of the landslide and the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation is now focused there.
He said the SAR operation started at 8.30am today after the Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG) inspected the area and found it safe for the rescue team to enter.
Meanwhile, Penang Fire and Rescue director Saadon Moktar, who was also at the scene, said today’s SAR operation began with shifting the earth from the landslide and three containers at the site elsewhere.
He said the department had obtained additional logistics support, including four excavators, three cranes and other machinery from the project contractor and the Penang City Council (MBPP).
He said currently, there were 100 personnel, including from the department, police, MBPP, health ministry and the Civil Defence Force, involved in the SAR operation, which has now entered its third day.
The landslide, which was reported to have occurred at 1.56pm last Friday, has killed four foreign workers and injured three others, with five people still missing and feared to have been buried alive.
The tragedy occurred after heavy rain in the state from Thursday afternoon until noon the following day, causing the landslide at the container and kongsi area at the Bukit Kukus paired road construction site.
Two bodies were recovered on Friday, that of Indonesian national Samsul Asman, 19, and Bangladesh worker Attrul, 35. The bodies of Myanmar woman Khin Aye Khaing, 33, and Indonesian Bahtiar, 36, were recovered yesterday at 1.30am and 11.55am.
Stream cause of landslide?
Meanwhile, water flow from a stream on the hilly area has been identified as among the causes of the landslide by the Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG).
The department’s director for Perlis, Kedah and Penang, Azhari Ahmad, said the finding was made based on its inspection and monitoring since yesterday.
“The JMG team which arrived at the location yesterday morning conducted an observation and identified several factors that caused the landslide, resulting in all containers on the hill slope to slide down with the earth.
“The main factor that caused the landslide is the water flow from a stream near the slope and heavy rain since Friday morning caused the water to overflow.”
He said the department had taken immediate measures by diverting the flow of water from the stream elsewhere to avoid worsening the situation, especially during the search operation.
Azhari said further inspection conducted at 7.30am today found the water flow on the slope was less, but the department would continue to monitor the situation with the help of equipment from the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to ensure the safety of the search personnel.
He said the department found the location of the landslide to be at a concave slope which easily collected water.
“We do not rule out the possibility of a follow-up landslide in the area due to the soil structure. There is still water flowing that can cause a landslide.
“We have also advised the rescue team to stop operations immediately if it rains as it could cause another landslide to happen as this could be dangerous to them,” he added.