Perak gov’t denies neglecting welfare of quarry landslide victims’ families

IPOH, March 16 (Bernama) — The Perak state government has denied allegations of neglect in the provision of welfare assistance to the families of two victims who are believed to be trapped under the debris of a limestone quarry landslide at Keramat Pulai, Jalan Simpang Pulai-Cameron Highlands here.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said his special officer and Kinta District Officer Meor Hezbullah Meor Abd Malik had channelled various forms of assistance to the families of the two victims since the incident occurred last Tuesday.

“I also received information that the owner of this quarry company has also provided cash assistance to the victim’s family.

“So, if the assistance given so far is not enough, they (the victims’ families) can report to the District Officer, and if it is beyond his means, the menteri besar will take action, but so far, I am sure all the welfare needs of the victims’ families have been taken into due consideration,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after inspecting the search and rescue (SAR) operation which entered its ninth day today, and he was accompanied by Perak Police chief Datuk Mior Faridalathrash Wahid.

In the meantime, Saarani said the request from one of the victim’s family members to be able to participate in the search and rescue operation could not be met, due to security factors.

“We cannot allow anyone except certain people who have been identified to be experts in this rescue work, and moreso, we have asked them (the rescue team) to be extra careful because there have been several landslides detected prior to this.

“So, we are worried that in a situation where if many people are at the scene, including the victim’s wife and family, and if there is a landslide, it could lead to more accidents or fatalities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Saarani said the search and rescue team had been using metal detectors to locate the excavator which had come under the landslide.

“However, from the information I received a moment ago, there could be detection interference as this area has also been identified as having iron ores, so we are afraid the metal detector may not be able to accurately detect the position of the excavator.

“A total of 13 controlled explosions were carried out to allow passage and space to locate the excavator, but so far nothing has been found, and it could possibly take a long time,” he said.

The incident at 9.15 am last Tuesday left two men identified as Kheow Loo Siew Soon, 49, and Itam Lasoh, 43, trapped under rock debris, while two others, namely Mohd Razli Suhaimi, 35, and Pan Tam, 38, were injured.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency