'We are still in shock': Loved ones identify victims of Malaysia landslide near Genting Highlands

ONEINNEWS.COM - Retiree Tan Eng Kee spent the whole of Friday (Dec 16) visiting several hospitals as he desperately searched for news about...

ONEINNEWS.COM - Retiree Tan Eng Kee spent the whole of Friday (Dec 16) visiting several hospitals as he desperately searched for news about his niece Hong Mei Jing. 

She was among those missing after a landslide hit an unlicensed campsite that morning in Batang Kali, Selangor, a hilly area near Genting Highlands. 

The death toll has risen to 24, including seven children.

Ms Hong is among the fatalities.

Mr Tan received news on Friday night that one of the bodies had a positive DNA match with Ms Hong.

"I'm here to identify my niece. We were looking for her everywhere yesterday, but last night they said there could be a possible DNA match with a dead body," Mr Tan told CNA outside Sungai Buloh Hospital's forensic department on Saturday morning. 

"We have all been living in uncertainty. Cannot sleep, cannot eat," he added.

"Now I have seen that it's really her … I feel numb looking at her body, it was hard to recognise. Her head was badly injured," he said, visibly shaken. 

Mr Tan was among several other family members and friends who were at Sungai Buloh Hospital to identify their loved ones. 

Some of them told CNA that they were still in shock from the news.
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"It has been a very tough time, but hopefully now we have some closure," said Mr Tan. "We will now make funeral preparations to give her a good send-off."

Ms Hong was a teacher from Mun Choong Chinese Primary School. 

Some of those affected by the landslide were teachers and students from the school, Malaysia's Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek told reporters on Friday night. The minister added that the camping activity was not officially organised by the school.

A woman who wanted to remain anonymous told CNA that she was at the hospital to identify the body of her cousin, a man in his 40s.

She said that the family had received news of a DNA match.

"My uncle gave his DNA, and we were told there was a match," she said. "We are still in shock. We had that lingering hope that my cousin was still alive, but it is tough."

Throughout Saturday morning, family members arrived at the forensics department in small groups. Some of them were in tears. 

They were taken to the department office for registration before entering the mortuary area where the bodies were being held. 

After the identification process, they were escorted out of the hospital. 

Many were emotional and did not speak with the media. They were accompanied throughout by hospital employees as well as members of some non-government organisations (NGOs) who were there to give psychological support. 

A man who wanted to be known only as Mr Yap told CNA that hospital staff and the NGOs were helpful to relatives and friends who were there. 

"They were kind and understanding to the situation we were in," said Mr Yap, who was there to help identify the body of his friend. 

Mr Yap received news on Friday night that his friend of 11 years was one of those found dead in the landslide. He did not want to name his friend. 

"I have come to pay my last respects and help with the body identification," said Mr Yap. 

"I remember the good times we spent together. He was a good man, loved his family and friends. He was 41 years old, still too young."

"The autopsy and body identification for the other victims are still being carried out," the agency added.

Search and rescue operations are ongoing for 10 more people, the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department said. 

A total of 54 people were found safe and seven more were injured, the department added. e

Source: CNA/am(gs)


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ONEinNews.com : 'We are still in shock': Loved ones identify victims of Malaysia landslide near Genting Highlands
'We are still in shock': Loved ones identify victims of Malaysia landslide near Genting Highlands
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