Monday, 8 December 2008

International Hill Makes International News (UPDATED)

Please check out the updates in red below.

We used to stay at Bukit Antarabangsa, that Jeannie liked to quip as "International Hill" and make people wonder were in heavens (now hell?) it is in KL.

Like heroes, we bought the place even after the 1993 Highland Tower tragedy there. But we were not entirely stupid...our house was not located anywhere near a hill slope and was in an area considered "ground level".

There have been numerous landslides even after Highland Tower with more loss of life, but these were forgotten almost as soon as the debris was cleared. Residents-owners of the area could not afford to deem the occurrences as anything more than isolated incidents.

Saturday's massive landslide changed all that because it occurred in an area that most would not expect it to. Few places on Bukit Antarabangsa are safe. More tragedies are waiting to happen as the authorities seem lost for solutions and most resident-owners do not have the luxury of vacating.

After Jeannie's passing we moved out a few months ago but nevertheless, I am heartened that many concerned friends phoned me these couple of days.

Somehow we could not resist visiting the site and when we went on Sunday, it was cordoned off.

Driving around the hill, it was obvious that the authorities feared more landslides may occur these few days.

My sincere condolences go out to the families who lost loved ones...


The following was posted by Colonel Mike Naser in my Old Edwardians eGroup today. It is a letter from his friend, a geologist.

Date: 2008/12/8

Subject: Re: The Ampang Disaster

To: Mike Naser Taib

Col. Naser

Yes, I have travelled across the said area when I was working as ageologist ( 1970 -1974) with Pacific Tin Consolidated Corporation whose HQ was in Ampang. ie in the same district.

The whole area is underlain by highly weathered granite ie the entirehilly area which was hard granite millions of years ago is now a pieceof massive clay (ie no more solid rock) which will flow down slope under gravity causing an avalanche. (if it is wet enough)... This massive clay was formed as a result of tropical weathering. The main constituent of granite is feldspar which becomes kaolin (clay) ..a product of tropical weathering.

What was preventing erosion of this clay were the trees but some of the neighbouring trees were chopped down for more housing development.

This should have never happened. So when this happens, water retention became poor and with less treeroots holding back the clay, an avalanche results when it rains heavily.

There is no seismic shift, if you are referring to the notion of earthquake.This unfortunate incident is the result of greed from the local authorities who approved these housing developments. They should be punished to serve as a reminder that the Federal Govt. is serious to stamp out such greed which destroys property and costs lives.

Now for a piece of good news for those living in USJ extending to Putra Heights. These areas are too underlain by granite but somehow as I examined the series of rock outcrops, the granite is consolidated, and not weathered. It is a different type of granite from the Ampang area. It is solid and stable. So I can stake my reputation as ageologist that these said areas will not suffer from any sort of appreciable soil movement, or avalanche...come rain or snow.

However, I am not sure about your Subang Jaya hotel area which couldbe a border between granite and limestone. But at any rate, this USJ granite is the solid type. Incidentally, tin alluvial deposits are found in the limestone near a granite body. This is true all along the western side of Peninsular Malaysia. ie I can assume tin was once mined near where you are living now.

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