In a frantic attempt to save his wife, a 31-year-old executive was forced to dig through the earth with his bare hands until his fingers bled.
He felt a sense of relief when rescue personnel arrived at the scene. But to his horror, they refused to help him, apart from throwing him a spade.
The startling accusation was made by the family of Ng Yee Ping, a 30-year-old accountant who perished in the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy on Saturday.
Yee Ping (left), who delivered a son two months ago, is believed to have died of internal injuries due to broken ribs.
However, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar came to the defence of the rescue personnel, citing their lack of training as a reason.
Speaking to reporters at the funeral service for Yee Ping yesterday, her family vented their frustrations claiming that she could still be alive if rescue personnel had acted promptly.
Recounting the ordeal, yee Ping’s mother-in-law Wong Sai Mooi said she and her husband had escaped through the second-floor window.
She then called out for her two sons.
“I heard my sons reply, I also heard my grandson crying. I felt relieved but did not know that my daughter-in-law was buried alive.
“Then I heard my eldest son (Yee Ping’s husband) calling his wife, telling her to remain conscious,” she was quoted as saying by China Press.
At this point, Wong (left) said she knew that her daughter-in-law was trapped, but fearing that there could be another landslide, she told her sons to leave the damaged bungalow.
However, yee Ping’s husband refused to leave his wife behind, and after handing his newborn son to his brother, he started to dig with his bare hands. His brother later returned to help him.
‘They treated her like a dead dog’
After some time, just as they managed to reach the victim’s hand, several rescue personnel passed the area. The brothers asked them for help but were told to wait until more personnel arrived.
“Later, a few rescue personnel arrived at the scene but they just threw a spade at (my sons) and did nothing,” she alleged, claiming that Yee Ping could still be alive if they had assisted.
“But they didn’t (help). (They treated her) like some dead dog or cat. Would they have done the same if one of their family-members was involved?” she asked bitterly.
Wong’s husband, Ng Yong Shun, 56, also accused the rescue personnel of looting his house and consuming his expensive wine.
He claimed that when he returned to the house on Sunday morning, he was shocked to discover several men in uniform lying on his bed, smoking and drinking his wine.
“One of them had even asked me whether I still wanted these things, if not I should give it to them. Later, my wife and I examined our safety box and found it opened. Several branded watches and jewellery were missing,” he said.
According to Oriental Daily News, Ng said he lost 80 bottles of expensive wine worth RM160,000 and six watches worth RM180,000.
Police chief: ‘I don’t believe’
Commenting on the accusations yesterday, Khalid said he found it hard to believe that rescue personnel would have acted in such a cold-hearted manner.
“I don’t believe that they would sit there and drink alcohol and so on. If there is such a person, could he be seen as a human being?” asked the police chief.
Khalid said the police would meet with the family to gather more information and conduct a thorough probe into the matter.
On the same note, he explained that some rescue personnel who are untrained are not allowed to conduct certain rescue operations.
“You don’t expect an ambulance driver to save a buried victim. He is not trained, so if we request untrained personnel for help and they refuse, we shouldn’t blame them.
“This is because their lives are in danger too. I think we should respect their decision. To dig and save someone, one has to be trained. For an untrained person, it’s a very dangerous task,” he said.
Is it a carnival?
Khalid also expressed disappointment with the media for publishing such accounts without verifying the matter with him.
“I hope that before you all write your news, you will consult me first, and make sure such things really happened. Is there anything wrong with that?
“Please, we are working hard here, and you are making it into a situation where people would have a negative impression of us,” he told reporters.
Khalid also saw red when quizzed on the ‘carnival-like atmosphere’ with the abundance of food and other facilities for rescue personnel.
“What do you think? Does it really look like a carnival? If that is the case, you write (what you want), there’s no need to ask for my opinion,” he thundered.
“Is it a carnival or is the rescue team working hard? If you think it’s the former, you just write, it seems you have enough intelligence to comment on it,” he added.