20th anniversary of Highland Tower collapse.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous collapse of Highland Tower, one of the three apartment blocks in Taman Hillview, Ulu Klang, Selangor. The collapse which occurred on 11th December 1993 is the worst structural disaster in Malaysia that claimed 48 lives and had been in a shocking memory to most Malaysians even until these days; two decades after the tragedy.


There are several events or causes that led to the structural failure of the 12-storeys apartment building. Before the tower’s construction, there was a small stream of water running directly behind the site and a piping system was constructed to divert it to bypass the three towers. Not long after, there was a new housing development on hilltop behind the towers that contributed to land-clearing, hence putting high risk to land erosion and landslides. Water from this new construction site overloaded the existing pipe system and the heavy monsoon rainfall at the end of the year worsened the situation.

Shortly after, excessive water in the area caused landslip and destroyed the constructed retaining wall. The foundations snapped, and the most unfortunate tragedy finally occurred, when the whole Block 1 collapsed to the ground (it leant and fell off to one side) at 1.35 pm, 11 December 1993. A huge number of rescue teams including those from overseas came to assistance, and in the end, and only three people were pulled out alive from the rubble (one was later pronounced dead in hospital). 48 innocent lives were lost, including the son of former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Musa Hitam.

I was only two years old when the tragedy occurred, hence not knowing anything that time. In my past several trips to Genting Highlands, I was always reminded by my parents of this tragedy as the site could be seen from the highway leading to Genting Highlands. But till now, I still couldn’t find exactly where the site is where the two remaining apartment blocks are still standing. However, both were abandoned and overwhelmed by jungle (undergrowth). Instead, now the site has been a popular source of haunted stories. Curious people or those in paranormal investigation whom have had visited the area generally responded that it was really eerie, cold and spooky there. I have not been there before and I personally don’t like that kind of feeling.


Learning from this tragedy, I do hope that nothing like this will occur again. As I myself is involved in architecture and construction, I do think that it is very important for our country’s building construction and planning to be done in much proper and in non-careless way to prevent such thing to happen in the future. On the other hand, recently, there is a local horror film released which is based on the paranormal encounters (fictional) in the remaining blocks. I won’t watch it, because it is local production. I think you understand what I mean.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)


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