Rescuers step up search for 7 kids missing after Sabah mudslide

AVILA GERALDINE



KINABATANGAN: Search and rescue dogs and heavy machinery are required in the search for seven missing children feared buried underneath mud and rubble following a mudslide at an oil palm estate here.

Sabah Civil Defence director Colonel Muliadi Al-Hamdi Ladin said his rescue team had to walk 7km to reach the scene, as roads and bridges leading to the estate were damaged by heavy rains and the ensuing landslip.

“Based on our observation, the use of heavy machinery is needed to lift a pile of logs and the house structure (amidst the mud).

“A canine (K-9) service is also required to track down the victims who could be trapped under the pile of logs and rubble,” he said.

As of 5.50pm, the seven children, aged between eight and 17, have yet to be located, as rescuers focus their operation on an area where a workers’ quarters was found buried under one metre-deep mud.

The distance between the house’s initial location and where it was swept to is about 30 meters.

On Friday, a family of 11 was swept into Sungai Labou after a mudslide hit their home following a heavy downpour.

In the event, Jalikah Malingkut, 50, her husband, Abdul Kahalayan, 50, and two children were rescued.

The incident occurred deep in an oil palm estate in central Sabah, about a six-hour drive from the interior district of Keningau. The incident was learned of only the next morning when estate workers noticed that the worker’s quarters had vanished.