Genting Bus Crash – There were bodies everywhere

Aug 24, 2013

The wreckage of the bus being removed from the crash site yesterday. The accident on Wednesday killed 37 people. — PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR – Genting’s Fire and Rescue department chief has described the bus crash that killed dozens of people this week as the worst accident he has seen in his 26 years of experience.

Mr M. Mahandran said he watched victims die in front of him after he rushed to the scene of Malaysia’s worst road accident.

The packed bus dived into a ravine on Wednesday, killing 37 people, including the driver. Rescue efforts were called off a day later.

“I saw people die in front of me,” Mr Mahandran said. “When we got there about 30 minutes after the accident, we could hear some of the victims calling out to us, asking to be saved.

“There were bodies everywhere and, by the time we got to them, they could not hold on any longer.”

He said some passengers trapped in the wreckage were pinned down by bodies.

He spoke of his relief at being able to save two victims stuck at the back of the bus. “We were glad to see them alive,” he said in a Star report yesterday.

After cranes hauled the bus out of the ravine yesterday, Mr Mahandran and his team noticed that diesel was leaking from the tank.

“We are glad the bus hadn’t exploded as that could have led to more deaths,” he said. Rescue officials used soda to stop the diesel from going down the road.

One survivor recounted the terror he felt when he was sandwiched between bodies after the bus plummeted into the ravine.

Mr Tan Ming Shing, who is receiving treatment at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, said he was stuck between two bodies for around half an hour before he was pulled to safety.

“My only thought at the time was that I had to stay alive no matter what happened. I was trapped. There were bodies on top of me and under me. Luckily, I still had a bit of room to breathe,” said the 26-year-old.

Mr Tan, who works at a kitchen in Genting, suffered a broken left arm during the accident, The Star said.

“When the bus plunged down, passengers were screaming, crying or praying. I was sure I was going to die,” he said.

He said the impact was so great that he was flung from his seat at the back of the bus to the front. “If not for the big trees there, the bus would have plunged down even further,” he added.

The police yesterday concluded their inspection of the accident area. The wreckage of the bus will be sent to the Bentong police headquarters for further investigation, a Star report said.

The bus will be dismantled to allow experts to investigate the cause of the accident, The New Straits Times reported.

“Some of the things that will be inspected will be the road-worthiness of the vehicle and the functions of the brakes and tyres,” said Bentong Police Chief Superintendent Mohd Mansor.

Singapore eyes Malaysia for cheaper living

Singapore eyes Malaysia for cheaper living
Financial Times, 4 Feb 2013
By Jeremy Grant in Singapore

When Tina Ward, a Singaporean mother of two, and her British husband realised they were outgrowing their cramped, government-built apartment in Singapore, they took a gamble.

Instead of trying to find bigger accommodation in the island city-state, the Wards looked across the Singapore Strait to abandoned palm oil plantations on the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia where land goes for a fraction of what it does on the Singaporean side of the border.

Now, four years later, the family lives in a seven-bedroom mansion with a swimming pool in a community populated by expatriate escapees from Singapore, which is itself just a 30-minute drive away.

“It’s the best decision we made in our lives,” Mrs Ward says.

The Wards were early settlers in Ledang Heights, part of a huge special economic zone called Iskandar that spans a 2,200 sq km area three times the size of Singapore and roughly the size of Luxembourg.
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Singapore hikers lost for 15 hours in Kota Tinggi

S’pore hikers lost for 15 hours in Kota Tinggi
8 spent night on slope after wrong turn; call to cabby led to police search
Nov 13, 2012
By Priscilla Goy And Pearl Lee

A WRONG turn left eight Singaporeans stranded in a forest reserve near a Kota Tinggi waterfall for more than 15 hours over the weekend. They were finally rescued at about 10am on Sunday – wet and exhausted after spending the night on a slope and in utter darkness.

The eight trekkers were Ms Tay Wei Xin, 25, Mr Law Teck Chuan, 28, Mr Lim Pong Hui, 27, Mr Wong Thiam Siang, 28, Ms Seow Pei Wen, 25, Ms Xiao Yulin, 25, and siblings Sng Yu Xin, 21, and Sng Ping Qiu, 28.

Ms Tay, Ms Seow and Ms Xiao had trekked in Kota Tinggi, about two hours’ drive from Singapore, a few times before, while the rest were doing so for the first time.

Ms Tay, a teacher, said the group, who are all friends of either Ms Sng or Mr Sng, checked into Kota Tinggi Waterfalls Resort at about 10.30am on Saturday. They had taken a bus across the Causeway, then a taxi to the hotel. They had intended to stay for the weekend. They set off for the Pelepah waterfalls in the Gunung Panti recreational forest at about 11am. The trek was within walking distance of their resort. She said she told the receptionist at the hotel of their trek.

Mr Sng, an application developer, said they had planned to hike upslope, which would take them past the three waterfalls there, and then backtrack to the resort. The end of the trail would be marked by the third waterfall. At about 4.30pm, they came to a point where there were two markers, which are pieces of ribbon or plastic tied around tree trunks by previous hikers. One led to the left, another to the right. Said Ms Tay: “We took the left turn because it led downstream, but after about five to 10 minutes, we realised it led nowhere. There were no more markers.”

The group went back and took the right turn, but realised they were walking in circles. They stopped at about 7pm as it was getting dark. They considered waiting till morning before continuing their trek back, but decided to call the police.

“It was getting very dangerous to walk, and the trail was also very steep and narrow,” said Mr Sng. “We had to walk one by one… we couldn’t go in twos. One person had to stay at the back to flash the torchlight on the trail because it was too dark.” Ms Sng was also having a fever by then.

Mr Sng had saved the mobile number of the Malaysian taxi driver who drove them to the hotel from the Kota Tinggi bus terminal. He called the taxi driver, who alerted the Malaysian police.

Ms Tay said that at 10.30pm, the police called them to say that they would be searching for them. The group waited till about 2am on Sunday, but no one came for them. “We had water, we had food, we just did not have extra clothing,” said Ms Tay. They had between them a loaf of bread, some crackers and sweets – leftovers from the food they had packed for their picnic. Ms Tay, who was wearing two T-shirts, offered one to Ms Sng, who was feeling cold because of her fever. The rest of the group hugged their legs while sitting down to keep themselves warm.

At about 7am, the police called them to say officers would be going upstream to search for them.

When Mr Law went downstream to look out for the rescue team, he saw a villager fishing by the river. He blew a whistle he had with him to attract the villager’s attention. The villager led the trekkers out of the Pelepah falls area to the route that would take them back to their resort. They met their rescuers along the way, said Ms Tay.

The group took a bus back to Singapore later on Sunday.

Asked how they would trek differently in future, Ms Tay said: “I will bring a windbreaker, a lighter, maybe some things to light a fire.” Mr Sng said that although it was unpleasant to have been stranded, he was still up for another trek. “But this time, with a guide definitely,” he said.

The New Straits Times yesterday quoted Kota Tinggi district police chief Che Mahazan Che Aik as advising foreigners who want to trek in the area to alert the hotel operator before setting out or hire a local guide.

Johor property market to shine

Johor property market to shine
Written by Chua Sue-Ann
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 11:57

KUALA LUMPUR: As multi-billion ringgit investments in Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia take shape, property players and investors are increasingly positive that the Johor property market is poised for a golden era after a sluggish decade.

KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton executive director Samuel Tan is among those convinced that Johor Bahru and Iskandar Malaysia’s property scene are on the cusp of a change of fortune.

“The past 10 years have been miserable. When we look at Kuala Lumpur’s property market, we are full of envy,” Tan told a media briefing in Johor Bahru last weekend.

Although property values and demand have a long way to go before they catch up with the hot real estate markets of Kuala Lumpur, the Klang Valley and Penang, Tan said the narrowing gap in values provides investors good upside potential.

Although total transaction volume for properties in Iskandar Malaysia remained constant over the years, he said, the transaction value and demand have been on the uptrend, particularly since 2H10.

Data from the National Property Information Centre (Napic) show that the transaction volume in Johor in 4Q10 more than doubled to 5,147 units from 2,105 in the preceding quarter.

Significantly, the transaction value nearly tripled to RM1.13 billion in 4Q10 from RM397 million in the previous quarter.
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Residential property boom in Johor Baru

Residential property boom in Johor Baru
By Presenna Nambiar
[email protected]

Johor Baru: The prices of residential properties have risen by an average of 40 per cent since 2006, in a city which used to suffer from an overhang of properties.
For example, Casa Almyra, a project by Danga Sdn Bhd, has seen prices go up to RM800,000 from RM450,000 in 2006.

KGV-Lambert Smith Hampton (Johor) Sdn Bhd executive director Samuel Tan said while transaction volume has not been very exciting, value of transactions have grown by leaps and bounds in the Iskandar region.

He said property owners and buyers can expect property prices in Johor Baru to rise by a further 10-20 per cent by end of 2011, on increased costs alone.

The price of commercial land in areas like Jalan Datuk Abdullah Tahir, Danga Bay and Tebrau area have also more than doubled since 2006.

More than half of these buyers are now locals.

“People are land-banking in Johor Baru because they see something in Iskandar Malaysia,” Tan said.

Property developers seem to be subscribing to this theory, considering the influx of property developers to Johor Baru.

Established players like SP Setia Bhd have no less than four simultaneous projects in Iskandar, while Bandar Raya Developments Bhd and IOI Properties have also launched major developments.

Some RM28.26 billion property development projects have been approved since 2006.

“If we used to count the number of property developers who are here, now its easier to count those who are not here,” Danga Bay Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Lim Kang Hoo said, adding that the heightened interest has helped revive some 90 per cent of stalled commercial and residential projects in Johor Baru.

Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the spurt in economic activity is a boon for the man in the street, as evidenced by higher wages, improved business opportunities and better living standards.