Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Malaysian government faces lawsuit over deadly landslide

Residents of a Malaysian housing estate hit by a weekend landslide that killed four people said Tuesday they were considering suing the government for compensation.

The disaster was the latest in a series of slippages in Kuala Lumpur's up-market northeastern suburbs, triggering a frenzy of finger-pointing over who is to blame for the continuing loss of life and property.

"We have set up a legal team which is collecting concrete evidence for us look at before we decide to take any legal action," said N. Muniandy, chairman of the residents' association at Bukit Antarabangsa where the landslide hit.

"If we have concrete evidence then we will go against the authorities concerned. It is not our fault at all. We are the victims," he told AFP.

"This landslide occured not because of the residents erecting houses on the slopes," he added. "The authorities had ignored signs that appeared over several years," he added.

In 2006 four people were killed and 43 homes destroyed in a nearby suburb and in 1993 a 12-storey condominium tower collapsed, burying 48 people mainly maids and children.

Rescuers were Tuesday still scouring through the rubble from Saturday's landslide in Bukit Antarabangsa after discovering a Sri Lankan maid was still missing, the state Bernama news agency said.

The disaster hit in the early hours of the morning, burying 14 houses in the middle-class residential area, cutting off access for thousands of residents and disrupting water, electricity and phone lines.

Raymond Jagathesan, deputy chairman of the residents' taskforce, said the local council and the relevant government agencies should carry out a thorough study into what caused the landslide.

"It is very disturbing," Raymond told AFP.

"We have been complaining about trees being uprooted and sinkholes appearing in people's backyards and abandoned housing projects, but the local authorities did not carry out an in-depth study on why these things were happening,"

"People have lost a lot of stuff, life savings and lives have been lost," he said.

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