MELAKA: The tragic landslide tragedy at Father’s Organic Farm in Jalan Genting, Batang Kali, Hulu Selangor on Dec 16 last year has left a profound scar, impact and lasting lesson for survivor Quek Sze Cheong, 37.
Recalling the deadly disaster that snatched the lives of 31 campers at the farm site, Quek said among the episodes still freshly seared into his memory was rescuing a mother and her child who were buried in the ground during the incident that unfolded at about 2.10am.
“After scrambling out of the tent, I tried to understand what was happening. At first I went to the back of the tent and was shocked to see that dozens of other tents were no longer visible, instead there was a rather high mound of earth.
“Then, I saw a human leg sticking out the soil and without delay, I and a friend who survived tried to pull the mother and baby out even though their legs were entangled,” he said when met by Bernama at his home in Taman Padang Balang, Batu Berendam here today.
He related this after the handing-over of charitable donations (Bantuan Wang Ihsan) to the four heads of families who survived the incident, namely Quek; Tee Yeow King, 38; Samuel Lim Huan Ching, 38, and Teh Kim Hock, 48.
The assistance was presented by deputy director-general of the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) operations division Meor Ismail Meor Akim and was also attended by NADMA director of community and social development section Roselin Rajab.
Quek said that although he was still traumatised by the incident, it will not stop the father of two daughters aged four and six from going back to life on the camping trail with his family and friends.
The engineer said this was because camping remains one of his family’s favourite pastimes during the long holiday seasons.
“My family, friends and I often go outdoor camping and the Batang Kali landslide was the first incident we went through, which I will never forget.
“Maybe after six months, our family will resume camping activities but we will certainly be more intuitive and avoid camping at risky sites such as hill slopes and beaches, especially during the North East Monsoon,” he said.
Quek and his wife, Lau Ying Ai, 36, along with their two children Quek Zi Qi, 6, and Quek Zi Jing, 4, were among 17 friends and family members who survived the horror.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all the personnel involved in the search and rescue (SAR) operation. The assistance provided was very quick even though I know the many difficulties the rescuers went through to still reach the landslide area.
“Thank you also to the government for the BWI contribution to the families of those who survived and also who died,“ he said.
Meanwhile, Meor Ismail said NADMA has completed handing over BWI totalling RM310,000 to the next-of-kin of victims who died in the tragedy.
“The next of kin receive BWI of RM10,000 per victim and for the survivors, RM1,000 will be given to each head of household.
“For survivors, 21 household heads will receive BWI and so far 15 have already received,” he said.
He said the presentation of BWI to all recipients will be completed before the Chinese New Year celebration -- a token of the government’s sympathy to the victims and families who escaped the tragic fate. -Bernama