Monday, December 08, 2008

Hillside Mess

You'd think that people would learn good lessons from tragedies past and attempt to prevent them from recurring and causing pain and injury all over again. Based on what's going on though, that seems to be not the case at all.

About two days ago, a landslide happened near a commercial area near Damansara Heights, where the roads were closed and the buildings evacuated. And even before the shock of that incident had blown over, another landslide happened in the hillside residential area of Bukit Antarabangsa near Ulu Klang in the middle of the night, killing four, injuring several others and destroying houses in the process. So far, about 3000 to 4000 people have been asked to evacuate the area.

Back in 1993, a tower block of this place called Highland Towers, another hillside residential area around the same area of Ulu Klang collapsed leading to the deaths of 48 people, and the formation of SMART (Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team), because we never had the need for one before. A study was conducted in the area, and it was decided that the land structure had weakened due to water that had seeped into the land from a source that was previously blocked.

Even the government agreed then that hillsides may not be the best area to build houses and decided on a rule to reduce housing areas at hillsides unless the land is proven to be safe, but even till today, you see all sorts of development of housing estates at hillsides, and you wonder if they're actually safe. I'm not sure if the houses at Bukit Antarabangsa were built before or after the Highland Towers tragedy because there seems to be no information available, but if it was built after the tragedy, then it's a bad case of not using history as a guide.

There is no doubt that hillside houses have a great view, and are always cooler (temperature wise, not hipper) than houses on low lying areas. Nevertheless, heavy rainfall at these former water catchment areas seem to seep in and when it is too much to handle, the land gives way and slides causing all these massive damage. And we all know how damaging water can be if look closely at the effects of floods, tsunamis, or even the slow effects over time that water causes in caves.

Now there is a talk about about reintroducing extra safety measures into housing at hillsides, including a proposed masterplan (after all, there is always a demand for houses at hillsides) Only time can tell if this is the best solution.

6 comments:

  1. That is indeed very tragic considering how avoidable it appears. I've only ever heard of one landslide happening here in Australia and it was simply terrible because it was at a holiday resort in the middle of winter in one of the few places in the country where it snows..and the most terrible story came out of it of a perticular man who was trapped with his wife for sixty five hours. The sad part of course is only he was pulled out not long after holding his wifes hand as she died beside him.

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  2. Oh... that is such a sad, sad story..

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  3. Hate to say it but, it’s all just bullshit. I stay near enough that tragic area to know that development has picked up place in the last couple of years. Put a stop to hillside development after highland tower tragedy? Get real!! It’s all about how much money one can put on the table, or under the table depending on the situation.

    More people will die, and we only got ourselves to blame. At the end of the day, we are all reaping the harvest of what we have been sowing, or not sowing depending on how you see it.

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  4. Honestly, I've not been to that area before... no reason to head over there either, so I never knew that new projects kept popping up.

    But anyway, the whole thing is teribble, it's not fair that people end up suffering because of the foolish greed of certain parties. Very disgusting...

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  5. We have people who build on hillsides, experience damage from mudslides, and rebuild in the same location.

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  6. That's just looking for trouble...

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