Malaysian highway still not accessible after landslide

Malaysian highway still not accessible after landslide

BENTONG - The road to the east coast remains cut off due to the landslide at KM52.4 between Lentang and Bukit Tinggi on Wednesday.

As of noon, work to clear the debris and mud were still being carried out at the site.

Several trucks were still seen parked on the emergency lane and two excavators and a bulldozer were working to clear mud, boulders and remnants of trees.

Concessionaire Anih Bhd president Datuk Dr Azmil Khalid advised motorist to use other roads for the time being and works could continue until late today.

"Just be patient. We are doing the best to clear the road," he said.

He added that initial investigation revealed that the landslide was not due to a slope failure but excess water from the catchment area.

"The excess water carried the mud together with the boulders and pieces of wood from the hill after a heavy downpour last night," said Dr Azmil.

Following the incident at around 6.30pm, more damage were found at the old roads via Bentong forcing the authorities to turn back vehicles.

"We've been here since 8pm yesterday. Road's still closed," said an officer who declined to be named.

He said the road had opened briefly at 8am Thursday but closed again after another landslide caused trees to collapse on the road.

He added that there was landslide damage at 15 points on the old road.

Trader Khalid Kassim, 54, said he and his family were stranded since 6pm last night, when they were headed home to Bukit Tinggi (a town on the other side of the landslide).

"We were stuck at the toll for four hours, ended up staying at a relative's house in Bentong. Still can't go back," he said, when met at the roadblock at the old road.

Cars were seen coming from the direction of the old road, and a check revealed all made a u-turn as the road was too dangerous to cross.

Lorry driver Syamsul Abdullah, 45, said he had been stuck since 6am, about a kilometer from the toll gate headed to KL.

He and the other drivers heard that the highway would be open by 10am Thursday but were caught in a gridlock.

He said there was an alternative road, going through Frasers Hill to Negri Sembilan and then back to Kuala Lumpur. However, it was too dangerous for large lorries.

A manager at the Karak-KL toll gate declined to comment, saying she was awaiting instructions about the situation.

She however allowed media and repair vehicles pass through the toll gate.

On the east coast-bound side, hotel chef Chuk Chin Wah, 37 and his six-month pregnant wife Nyen Thi Thio, 20 were also caught in the jam on their way to Bentong Hospital for her monthly check up.

"My wife's appointment with the Doctor is at 10am. We are not going to make it in time," he said.

Businessman Navindran Palasendaran, 29, and his family were on their way from Puchong to celebrate Deepavali with relatives in Raub.

Unaware of the landslide, they travelled up this morning and had been stuck since.

"We were unaware of the landslide and only got the news when my cousin texted me earlier this morning," he said, adding that they had stopped in Sempah to rest and continued at 9am hearing news that the road would be cleared by 10am.

"Unfortunately we are still stuck here. I was working for the pass two days, and only now I'm going to celebrate Deepavali with my relatives in Raub. Looks like I'll have to celebrate here," he said with a laugh.

See also: Landslide on Malaysian highway: It was like a movie, says escaping driver

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