The number of people killed in a landslide near the Malaysian capital on Friday has risen to 23, with 10 people still missing, Malaysia’s state media agency Bernama reported Saturday.
Authorities have identified six bodies so far, Bernama reported, citing Malaysia’s National Disaster Management Agency.
The landslide in Batang Kali in Selangor state, north of the capital Kuala Lumpur, occurred in the early hours local time Friday, chipping a hill into an organic farm with camping facilities, the state’s fire and rescue service said.
Lynn Xuan, 22, said she was camping with 40 others when the landslide hit. She said one of her brothers has died, while another is in hospital.
“I heard a loud noise like thunder, but it was the falling rocks,” she told Malaysian daily Berita Haria. “We felt that the tents were becoming unstable and that earth was falling around us. Luckily I was able to leave the tent and go to a safer place. My mom and I managed to crawl out and save ourselves.”
More than 90 people died in the landslide, according to the fire and rescue services.
The bodies of a woman and a child, believed to be buried alive from the landslide at a campsite, were found hugging each other, Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Norazam Khamis told Bernama on Friday.
In addition to the dead, 14 were hospitalized, it said.
One of those taken to hospital was pregnant, while others had injuries ranging from minor cuts to a suspected spinal cord injury, Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa told a news conference.
District Police Chief Suffian Abdullah said the dead were all Malaysians, including a child about 5 years old.
Nearly 400 people from various agencies had been deployed, with search and rescue efforts underway, he told a news conference.
The landslide came down from an estimated height of 30 meters (100 ft) above the campground and covered an area of about an acre (0.4 hectares), the state’s director of fire and rescue services said.
Footage from local television showed the aftermath of a major landslide through a steep, forested area along a road, while other images posted on social media showed rescuers scrambling over thick mud, large trees and other debris.
“I pray that the missing victims are found safe soon,” Malaysian Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, tweeted Friday morning, one of several ministers on the scene. “The rescue team has been at work since the beginning. I’m going there today.’
The disaster struck about 50 km north of Kuala Lumpur in the town of Batang Kali, just outside the popular hill country of Genting Highlands, an area known for its resorts, waterfalls and natural beauty.
Bernama news agency tweeted that all campsites and water recreation areas around Batang Kali should close immediately until further notice, citing the Interior Minister.
Photos posted to the Father’s Organic Farm’s Facebook page show a farm in a small valley, with a large area for tents to be pitched.
Selangor is the most prosperous state in the country and has previously experienced landslides, often attributed to forest and land clearing.
The region is in the rainy season, but no heavy rains or earthquakes have been recorded overnight.