Two dead after landslide strikes luxury resort in Perak

Firemen carry a body extricated from a landslide in a hotel resort in Tambun, Perak, on Nov 10, 2020. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR - A landslide believed to be triggered by heavy rain has claimed the lives of two people staying at the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat in Ipoh, Perak.

The bodies of the victims - 39-year-old Ooi Chee Wei and Lee Tze Jun, 32 - were discovered on Tuesday (Nov 10) lying near each other in the jacuzzi area of the luxury all-villa resort.

Ipoh Fire and Rescue Department chief Azmi Osman said rescuers digging through the mud found the pair within five minutes of each other.

"When the landslide occurred at around 1am (early Tuesday), all occupants were told to vacate the holiday units and report at the concierge, but the victims had failed to do so.

"This prompted a staff member to go to their unit, which was locked. The couple had not responded to any calls," he said.

"The staff member climbed over the wall and discovered that the jacuzzi area in their unit was filled with soil. The resort then alerted the authorities," he added.

Acting Perak police chief Goh Boon Keng told reporters that a search and rescue mission was immediately launched after the call at 1.28am and officers from Ipoh were deployed to the scene.

"But we were forced to stop our operation following the detection of soil movement. We resumed at around 7am," he added.

The victims were found at 9.55am and pronounced dead at the scene. The bodies were sent to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital for an autopsy.

The hilly area has been hit by heavy rains since Monday, which has softened the soil where the resort is located, said Perak Mineral and Geoscience Department deputy director Mat Niza Abdul Rahman.

"This area is surrounded by limestone and surplus soil. To the naked eye, it looks pretty and stable but the soil had softened following the heavy rain last night.

"When the soil is soft, it can lead to a landslide. And it can happen again," he said.

Rescuers digging through the mud found the pair within five minutes of each other. PHOTO: IPOH FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat released a statement on Tuesday saying it is working with the authorities to reach out to the families of the two guests, to provide them with support and assistance.

"No other guests and staff are affected and all have been moved to a safe area," it added.

The resort said it meets all safety requirements and protocol set by the authorities, and operates to international standards.

"The health and safety of our guests and all staff have always been our top priority... We are unable to make further comments as police investigation is under way," it said.

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