Landslide paralyses KL-Pahang highway

PETALING JAYA - A landslide paralysed Karak Highway, a vital link to the east coast states, giving out an ominous sign of more ferocious rainy days ahead.

It buried at least four vehicles - one MPV, a trailer and two cars - causing a traffic standstill on both directions last night.

When contacted, Pahang Fire and Rescue Department public relations officer Anuar Hassan believed the passengers escaped unhurt after abandoning their vehicles.

Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tweeted his concern at about 10pm, saying: "We pray for the safety of all motorists."

Bentong OCPD Supt Mansor Mohd Nor said the landslide, which occurred late yesterday evening, took place at KM52.4 near the Lentang-Bukit Tinggi stretch.

Traffic from Kuantan was diverted out at the Bentong exit while traffic from Kuala Lumpur was diverted into the Genting Sempah exit on the highway, he said.

Supt Mansor said that the debris from the landslide was being cleared starting at 8pm.

At about 11pm, the Works Ministry issued a statement, saying that the clearing work was expected to be completed by 10am today.

It also gave an advisory about the alternative routes. 

Motorists heading towards Kuala Lumpur were reportedly stuck in a 3km standstill with a 1km crawl heading towards Bentong.

Highway concessionaire Anih Bhd said in a statement that the road was closed to traffic in both directions as a safety measure and that rain was still pouring in the area last night.

Motorists from Kuala Lumpur were advised to use alternative routes in Bukit Tinggi or via the Lentang rest area while those from Kuantan could use the back road from Bentong Timur.

In a Twitter posting, the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) urged motorists to postpone their journey.

Head of traffic from the Star Media Radio Group Priscilla Patrick said that all lanes were obstructed by the landslide.

"It's the really watery kind of mud," she said.

Malaysians were quick to take to social media to spread the news about the landslide and also to wish for the safety of those affected by it.

On Twitter, @afirdauszaki asked how he was supposed to get back to his campus now with the heavy rains and landslide.

As for @AhmadIllmi11, he expressed relief that he managed to get home safely and advised those who were still stuck on the Karak Highway to be patient.

Another wrote on Facebook, claiming that his car was stuck in the middle of the mud causing him to abandon the vehicle to save himself.

"We only can pray that those affected will be safe and the rescue team also will be safe while doing rescue and clean up," wrote another Facebook user Jason Teo Jin Teik.