Survivors Retell Their Stories 20 Years After The Highland Towers Tragedy

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Highland Towers tragedy that occurred on December 11, 1993. Survivors and family members of the victims are still unable to forget that painful day.

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At 1.35pm On 11th December 1993, Block 1 Of Highland Towers Collapsed After A Massive Landslide

People looking at the rubbles of Block 1 of Highland Towers.

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On Dec 11, 1993, Block A of the Highland Towers condominium complex came crashing down after days of heavy rain, killing 48 people, including a Japanese woman who was pulled out of the rubble alive.

Rescuers heard knocking and voices right up to the seventh day after the collapse. Only three people, including an infant, were pulled out from the rubble alive, and only within the first 24 hours. One of them died later in hospital.

Of Those Who Were Trapped In The Rubble, Only An Indonesian Maid And An 18-Month-Old Baby Survived

Nur Hamidah Najib, who was 18 months old then, and her mother Umi Rashidah Khoruman, 22, were among the first three people to be pulled out alive from the rubble.

The third was a Japanese woman, Shizue Nakajima, 50, who later died in the hospital from her injuries.

Baby Nur Hamidah Najib (middle, being held up) managed to escaped unscathed.

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After 20 Years, Survivors From The Highland Towers Tragedy Recount How Block 1 Crashed

Block 1 collapsing.

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"I was playing video games at a friend's apartment in Block 2 when we heard a loud bang. We rushed to his balcony, which faced the hillside, and when I saw the landslide rushing towards my block, my heart sank," Zhariff Afandi, who was 12 at that time, recounts.

Banker Hilton Lee says, "I couldn't believe what happened next. As I was inserting the key into my car door, I heard a loud noise and turned around just in time to see the block falling. From my angle, the building swayed forward slightly first, before crashing to the ground."

"People were shouting, crying, confused and frightened. At the time, nobody knew what to do. The Fire Department and police were focusing on searching for survivors in the collapsed block," KPWG International's director says.

"I walked into what had been my son's bedroom. He was three at that time, and I was amazed to see that some of his toys were still there, as was a colouring book that had not blown away and a dinosaur stencil on the floor," said Gray who visited Block 3 four months ago.

The Last Time I Saw My Son Was A Week Before The Collapse, Says Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam

Tun Musa Hitam and his son, Carlos Rashid (right).

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“I remember being invited over to Carlos’ apartment for lunch a week before the incident," says Tun Musa. Sadly, that was also the last time Musa saw his son.

His son, Carlos Rashid, and daughter-in law Rosina Abu Bakar were both killed in the 1993 Highland Towers tragedy, caused by a landslide that contained a mass equivalent of 200 jumbo jets ramming into the foundations of Block A.

Carlos’ and Rosina’s remains were discovered days after the Dec 11 disaster that claimed 48 lives. “No words can describe how I felt then. I remember my ex-secretary telling me: ‘I don’t want you to see their bodies.’” And Musa knew better than to argue.

Former Federal CID Chief Wishes To Meet The 'Miracle' 18-Month-Old Baby That Was Rescued Uninjured From The Rubble

Two decades after the Highland Towers tragedy, former federal CID chief Tan Sri Zaman Khan Rahim Khan is still hoping to meet the baby girl who miraculously escaped unscathed.

“She came out without a scratch. I wish I could meet this lucky girl,” said Zaman, who was at the scene in the afternoon of Dec 11, 1993.

Zaman said he was with other rescuers when Nur Hamidah was brought out from the rubble and remembered crying in joy when she was handed to him. “When I showed the baby to the crowd there, everybody cheered and clapped,” he recalled in an interview.

Tan Sri Zaman Khan Rahim Khan.

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