IPOH, May 18 — Mentri Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said Perak will close all 14 forest reserves under the supervision of the State Forestry Department for all leisure and recreational activities with immediate effect.
Saarani said this is due to the current adverse weather conditions, which have led to the death of two female hikers who were swept away while hiking up a trail at Gunung Suku.
“We have advised the Perak State Forestry Department to close these areas for a time being until the weather permits. There have been a lot of cases lately,” he told reporters when met at the State Forestry Department’s Hari Raya celebration at Eco Rimba Park, Kledang Saiong, Meru here.
Saarani also said the authorities have problems keeping track of the hikers as some tend to not follow the schedule given to them.
“For example, a person is given a permit to hike on Saturday, but he misses it and decides to go on Sunday without informing the authorities.
“When this happens, we can’t track the hikers. We won’t be able to know what time they went in and what time they came out. So, we have to review our standard operating procedures again to control such incidents from happening again,” he explained.
Saarani also reminded the public to be alert and cautious when in forest reserve areas with waterfalls, as the water surge phenomenon was unpredictable.
“We have to remember that those who usually go for leisure activities at the waterfalls at these forest reserves will usually stay at the hill.
“When there is a downpour, the water will sweep away everything including rocks and humans,” he said.
On May 15, two women, See Su Yen, 32, and Ng Yee Chew, 46, were swept away by a water surge, while hiking around 5am.
They were part of a group of 29 hikers who heard sounds of a landslide and water surge on the mountain and decided to turn back.
The water surge hit the group on their way back and both women were believed to have been swept away by the swift currents.
The search and rescue team have been collecting body parts and pieces of clothing belonging to the victims for the past two days.