Sabah mudslide: Search for another two missing victims continue

AVILA GERALDINE and BRANDON JOHN

KINABATANGAN: It has been tough for the search team to locate the missing mudslide victims with the bad weather and poor road conditions hampering the mission, said Deputy Sabah Fire and Rescue Department director Zuraidah Latip.

“The victims’ quarters are located in a remote area about six hours from Keningau.

“We have to walk about four kilometres for the last stretch of road as it is inaccessible via vehicles. All in all, it takes about six hours just to get here,” she told reporters who followed the rescue personnel here.

She added the heavy rain made the muddy roads slippery and dangerous besides affecting the team’s ability to bring in proper equipment.

There were also limited telecommunication lines or signal, making relaying information and co-operation difficult.

However, Zuraidah said the department had faith in the rescue team as they were highly trained and experience in such mission.

The same team has been at the location since first day.

Despite all the setbacks, the team are putting in all their effort to retrieve the body of another mudslide victim found this morning.

A Sabah Fire and Rescue Department spokesperson said team had been dispatched to the scene to bring the body back to Pinangah jetty.

The body was spotted by villagers at about 10am.

Search operation for two other remaining missing victims will be focused on areas within Pinangah, Telupid.

“We have stopped our search operation at Sungai Labou at 10am to focus more on the location where the missing victims could have been drifted.”

On Saturday, a mudslide had resulted in the destruction of a worker’s quarters in Tongod and swept a family of 11 into Sungai Labou.

In the incident, estate worker Abdul Kahalayan, 50; his wife Jalikah Malingkut, 50; and their 18-year-old son Joshnam survived, while eight others including the couple’s children and grandchildren were missing.

Yesterday, two bodies were found in Kampung Masaum, and another three at Kampung Mangkawago, Kampung Pasik, and Kampung Panangah.

More than 50 people are involved in the search and rescue effort which involved the Fire and Rescue department, police, Civil Defence Force, plantation workers and villagers in the surrounding areas, which is near the Nabawan-Tongod border.

Plantation supervisor, Andi Banding, 23, said the family from Tanjung Labin in Lahad Datu had planned to move to a different living quarters on Saturday.

“They had just started working here about a week ago, and due to constant flooding in the area, they were supposed to transfer to better accommodations.

“Who knew that tragedy would strike just hours before?”