GEORGE TOWN: A landslide which occurred even when there was no rain to trigger it might have been due to many reasons, including human error, says an expert.
Universiti Sains Malaysia geotechnical engineering professor Prof Dr Fauziah Ahmad said the workers may have dug at the toe of the slope while trying to build a retaining wall.
“During the digging process, pressure might have been released from the top of the wall, which could already have had cracks.
Prof Fauziah said traffic vibrations could also trigger pressure and cracks on the wall.
“Once there are cracks, water will seep through over a period of time, and when it reaches the instability between backfill and the wall, the slope will collapse,” she added.
Prof Fauziah was asked to comment on the incident on Tuesday where four foreign workers were buried alive in a landslide at a construction site in Batu Ferringhi.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Centre of Tropical Geoengineering director Prof Dr Edy Tonnizam Mohamad said the stability of a slope, among others, depends on its soil properties, slope geometry, volume, effect of gravity and also the pore water pressure.
“A slope could fail if one or a combination of factors passed its equilibrium and factor of safety.
“If the geometry of a slope is not properly designed according to geologic, engineering and climatic factors, a slope failure could occur.
“There have been several cases of landslides even when there was no rain,” he said.
Prof Edy added that to prevent such incidents, monitoring and inspection before and during construction is important.
“Professional supervision is also needed at the construction site.
“During construction, the standard operating procedure should be made clear.
“The construction site should be managed properly and safety procedures adhered to,” he said.