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Thursday October 24, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 24, 2013 MYT 12:31:59 PM
by manjit kaur, neville spykerman, ivan loh, razak ahmad, meng yew choong, AND isabelle lai;photos by saiful bahri
CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Water released from the Sultan Abu Bakar hydroelectric dam after the siren was sounded – which was either not heard or went unheeded – brought death and destruction to Bertam Valley in Ringlet here.
As of press time, three people were confirmed dead, nearly 100 houses destroyed or under water and over 100 vehicles badly damaged.
Thirty-eight people from about 80 families have been placed at the Ringlet community hall.
Police said that two of the dead were foreign workers while a colleague of theirs was missing. The other was a 51-year-old man who suffered a heart attack during the commotion and died on the way to the Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom hospital in Tanah Rata.
Another Malaysian, a 38-year-old man, was injured and sent to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun hospital in Ipoh.
Police said the water from the dam under the jurisdiction of Tenaga Nasional was released thrice - at midnight, 1am and 2.45am yesterday.
The havoc started after the second release when water gushed down to the houses on Pahang Drainage and Irrigation Department land.
Some 15 kongsi houses on the banks of Sungai Bertam were destroyed.
Police have identified the two foreign workers as Bangladeshi Md Jahangir Alam, in his 30s, and 46-year-old Indonesian Kesmat.
The dead local was Tam Tuck Choi.
Cameron Highlands OCPD DSP Wan Mohd Zahari Wan Busu said the first body was found at 8am and the second at 8.15am in two different houses.
He added that the search and rescue team was still looking for 17-year-old Indonesian Jarwati.
He told reporters at the scene that the water had to be released because it was reaching danger level following continuous rain since 7pm on Tuesday.
DSP Wan Mohd Zahari said the normal level at the dam was 3498m. When the level reached 3508m, water was released, causing the Bertam River to overflow, resulting in the mud flood.
“The siren was sounded to alert the residents before the water was released, and rescue operations started as the water was reaching waist high at about 2am.”
He said a similar incident occurred in 1988 but the situation was not that bad.
Pahang Zone 3 Fire and Rescue department deputy enforcement chief Yusaimi Zulkifli said the water would have been released automatically when the level reached 3510m.
District officer Datuk Ahmad Daud said there were plans to deepen and widen Sungai Bertam at an estimated cost of about RM40mil.
Cameron Highlands MP Datuk Seri G. Palanivel, who is National Resources and Environment Minister, visited the site and said that welfare assistance would be provided to the victims.
Palanivel said he would speak to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on the need to speed up work on deepening the river.
“Many people have been living here for more than 30 years, and we need to provide them with a proper location to stay.
“It is not safe for them to stay on the river banks,” he added.
He also visited the victims at the community centre and handed over cash aid.
Water release done via fixed procedures
Victims lose clothes, homes in Cameron Highlands mud flood
Siren blare not unusual sound
More 'sirens' as folk try to salvage items
Reach: Man-made mistakes contributed to deluge
Water current pulled wife away from me, says Indonesian
Area around dam undergoing massive land clearing
Number of tragedies at veggie and flower farms in Cameron Highlands
Tags / Keywords:
Family & Community, bertam, flood, camaron highlands
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