Batang Kali landslide: Bodies found in embrace a painful memory for rescue personnel

47-year-old Senior Fire Officer Shahari Shamsuddin said it was one of the most unforgettable experiences during his 23 years of service.


December 19, 2022

BATANG KALI – The recovery of the body of a mother embracing her three-year-old daughter buried under a pile of mud in the landslide here on Friday (Dec 16) was a painful memory for Senior Fire Officer Shahari Shamsuddin.

Shahari, 47, who was among the first rescuers to find the bodies of the mother and child, said it was one of the most unforgettable experiences during his 23 years of service in the Fire and Rescue Department.

“When I found them hugging each other, I thought about my daughter. Subhanallah, I cannot imagine if this heartbreaking incident happened to my family. When it came to extricating the bodies, I had to hold back my tears. As rescue personnel, I have to control my emotions, but as a normal human being, it’s hard to deal with this feeling,” he said.

Recounting the moment, Shahari said he arrived at the scene at 10am and was deployed along with 30 other personnel to locate the victims’ bodies in the red zone.

Shahari said the rescuers had to battle thick mud that made their movement difficult.

He said the main challenge also concerned land stability at the disaster area because of underground water flow.

The team had to take utmost care in using heavy machinery at the landslide location to prevent damaging bodies still under the earth, he added.

Meanwhile, Senior Fire Officer Mohd Shaiful Nizam Mohd Rosdy, 39, who was on duty at the scene in Sector C, also admitted that the operation was very difficult because of the soil structure.

“Uncertain weather is among the biggest challenges and sometimes we do not even realise that we are standing on the buried victims,” said Mohd Shaiful Nizam, who has been with the Fire and Rescue Department for 17 years.

The landslide tragedy, which occurred at the Father’s Organic Farm campsite in Gohtong Jaya, Batang Kali, at 2.42am Friday, has claimed 24 lives, with nine still missing. – Bernama.

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