11 dead in landslide at Penang construction site

The authorities in Penang had initially said 13 foreign workers and a Malaysian supervisor were trapped under a landslide at a construction site last Saturday. But they clarified yesterday that the total number of workers buried was 11, as three work
The authorities in Penang had initially said 13 foreign workers and a Malaysian supervisor were trapped under a landslide at a construction site last Saturday. But they clarified yesterday that the total number of workers buried was 11, as three workers had managed to escape.PHOTO: BERNAMA

PENANG • Eleven people, mostly foreign workers, were killed in a landslide at a construction site in Penang, officials said yesterday.

Huge mounds of earth slipped off a hillside on Saturday morning, burying the men as they worked on two residential towers on the Malaysian island, which is popular with tourists. The cause has yet to be determined.

The authorities had initially said 13 foreign workers and a Malaysian supervisor were trapped under the mud and rubble at the site in Tanjung Bungah, north of Penang's historic capital George Town.

But fire and rescue department official Ervin Galen Teruki was cited by state-run news agency Bernama yesterday as saying that the total number of workers buried was 11, as three workers had managed to escape. The three were sent to hospital for treatment.

The bodies of seven men have been found - two Bangladeshis, two Indonesians, two from Myanmar and one yet to be identified, Mr Teruki said.

Many migrant workers are employed in low-paying, physically-demanding industries such as construction in Malaysia.

The landslide has sparked anger in Penang, where concern had been mounting about rapid construction on the island's hills that critics say degrades the environment and increases the risk of such accidents.

Several residential and commercial towers are under construction in the area where the landslide occurred.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has pledged a state-level inquiry and said construction would be halted on the project until the probe was completed.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline '11 dead in landslide at Penang construction site'. Print Edition | Subscribe