PWD: Weak soil structure cause of Hulu Langat landslide

KUALA LUMPUR: Unusually heavy rain over three days had weakened the soil structure, resulting in the landslide which hit the Hidayah Madrasah Al-Taqwa Orphanage in Hulu Langat, claiming 16 lives last Saturday, May 21.

Public Works Department's (PWD) Hillslope Engineering senior director Datuk Ir Ashaari Mohamad said that based on the rainfall distribution data over three days, there were 29 millimetres (mm) of rainfall last Thursday, 41 mm on Friday and rising sharply to 80 mm on Saturday (day of landslide incident) in the area.

"The amount of rainfall on that day was extraordinary because the normal level is around 20 mm. With such heavy rain, a lot of water would seep into the soil, causing the structure to be weak and a landslip could occur any time."

He said this when briefing the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on the devastating landslide before the Sultan handed over contributions from the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MUIS), Selangor Zakat Board (SZB) and the state government for the victims and their families.

Ashaari said on inspecting the landslide site and hilltop area closeby, they (PWD) noticed water channels on the hillslope in the direction of the landslide site, while the cutting of trees in the area had also contributed to the problem during a downpour.

"There is still some soil movement here and rain can cause another landslide, so we've categorised this area as unsafe."

He said that based on information received, the orphanage was also too close; only about seven metres away from the hillslope of 25 metres to 30 metres high.

"We estimate about 3,500 cubic metres or 600 lorry loads of soil had slipped and hit the orphanage, leaving a mound of loose soil of about four metres high and 54 metres wide."

Ashaari said the hillslope near the orphanage had also been cut, causing further soil instability.

"Today, we want to closely examine the soil condition in the area and see how we can improve the soil structure.

"We are also asking the local authority to monitor the housing areas around here as they are also exposed to the same risk," he added.

From the contribution of RM217,000 from MUIS and SZB, each family or beneficiary of the 16 landslide victims who died received RM5,000 while the survivors received RM1,000 each, and the orphanage, RM100,000.

The Selangor government also gave RM5,000 to each of the beneficiaries. — Bernama

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