Highland Towers Collapse

The Highland Towers collapse was an apartment building (condominium) collapse that occurred on December 11, 1993, in Taman Hillview, Ulu Klang, Selangor, Malaysia.

The collapse of one block caused the deaths of 48 people and led to the complete evacuation of the other two blocks due to safety concerns.

The Highland Towers were three blocks of 12-story apartment, each block was respectively named Block 1 (built in 1979), Block 2 (built in 1982) and Block 3 (built in 1985). Block 1 collapsed when 10 continuous days of rainfall led to a landslide after the retaining wall at the Tower's car park failed.

After the tragedy, The Highland Towers memorial was placed at the site of Block 1.

The Highland Towers still stand today, although they are now almost completely overgrown by the Jungle. In recent years, they have been the site of much vandalism and the buildings are now in almost complete disarray and ruin. Rather eerily, the abandoned towers continue to loom out of the green density of the jungle, looking out over the Taman Hillview area.

A huge mudslide brought on by heavy rain triggered the collapse of a 12-storey building on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on December 11, 1993. Within hours after its activation, the SCDF rescuers are already inside the collapsed building searching for survivors.

The rescue effort was hampered by the unstable rubble, which is made worse by the near constant rain. At one stage of the operation, all rescue efforts had to be halted following a minor landslide on the hill behind the collapsed building. Still the officers toiled away refusing to give up.

This incident later prompted the Malaysians to set up their own specialised rescue unit, the Special Malaysian Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART). The team underwent advance-training courses in Singapore, and like Dart, it has since also helped in international rescue efforts.

Highland Towers, as is collectively known, consist of three blocks 12 storey high apartments named simply as Blocks 1, 2 and 3. They were constructed sometime between 1975 and 1978. Directly behind the three blocks was a rather steep hill with a stream flowing west, if it was allowed to follow its natural course. The attraction of this place was the natural surroundings with an extensive view of the city of Kuala Lumpur.

On Saturday, December 11, 1993, at about 1.30 pm, after 10 days of continuous rainfall, a landslide was triggered. Mud slipped into the basements of Block 1 and hence shifting the entire base of the building, hence the entire block collapsed, trapping residents inside. When the rescue operation was called off after days of searching, 48 people were recorded dead. Many countries like Japan and the US sent professionals to help the rescuers here to get trapped victims out from the collapsed rubble. The nation (Malaysia) declared this incident a national tragedy.