Hundreds of residents evacuate KL condo over landslide risk as more floods expected

Four blocks comprising 34 residential units were affected and the occupants had been ordered to move out. PHOTO: THE STAR/YOUTUBE

KUALA LUMPUR - When her family first noticed some soil movement near their apartment block in Kuala Lumpur following torrential rain in Malaysia last week, Ms Katrina Yeoh said they immediately decided to evacuate to a safer place before it got worse.

The 25-year-old said they left on Dec 20 after seeing the extent of the floods in Selangor.

“My father was the first to notice the soil movement. If there weren’t any floods reported, we would have probably stayed on,” the office worker told The Straits Times.

“But... seeing what had happened in Selangor, we decided to move out. It’s crazy and very frightening to see soil crumbling bit by bit. We don’t feel safe.”

Ms Yeoh and her family were among hundreds of residents who voluntarily left their homes in Seri Duta 1 condominium after structural faults caused by rain were found in their block, which is nearest to the landslide. 

On Dec 20, 34 other families from two apartment blocks were ordered to evacuate.
However, the entire area was declared unsafe on Tuesday (Dec 28), forcing all remaining residents in the 14-block apartment complex to evacuate immediately.

Some photos circulating on social media show one block sitting precariously on an eroding slope.

According to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall, the defects were found by the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Malaysian Institute of Public Works (Ikram) during checks on the building.

“There is also a risk of a more critical landslide in the area. There are signs of soil movement that could further affect the structure. Among them is the broken supporting column, as well as cracks above and below the building floor,” said the city hall in a statement on Monday, adding that works to strengthen the slope and building would commence soon.

The condominium is located on lower ground, where soil can catch water run-off from the surrounding area.

According to Sentul police chief Beh Eng Lai, works to divert excess water from the slope had been carried out.

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On Dec 17, heavy rain in many states in Peninsular Malaysia left many people displaced.

Malaysia is hit by floods annually during the monsoon season, from November to February, and this year’s flooding is the worst since 2014.

On Dec 22, water levels in parts of Selangor rose amid what has been called the heaviest rainfall in 100 years.

At least 48 people have died in severe flooding sweeping the country, while five are still missing.

As at Tuesday, 16,298 people were housed in temporary relief centres across five states - Selangor, Kelantan, Pahang, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan - down from 22,573 on Monday.

But many are bracing themselves for a second wave of floods.

The authorities said 82 locations across the country have been hit by the heavy downpour, with multiple landslides reported in parts of Selangor and Pahang.

As at 2pm on Monday, 27 locations were affected by floods, and there were 39 landslides reported, 13 collapsed roads, one location where the roads have sunk and two where bridges have sunk or are broken.

“These involve six states, namely Selangor, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Kedah and Terengganu. Twenty-four federal and 58 state roads have also been affected,” said the PWD in a statement on Tuesday.

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A collapsed road and landslide near a dormitory for men at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Selangor forced 128 students to be evacuated.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Norazam Khamis said student residents alerted his department on Sunday.

“For now, there are no signs of cracks on the wall or floor,” he said, adding that the area has been cordoned off with safety cones and security tape by the university’s management.

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