Saturday, 20 November 2010

Car Plunge Into Ravine.. KM35.4 Karak-KL Hiway

The wreckage - Pic courtesy of Shamsul KLM1
The site of the Wreckage
On 18th November 2010, while I was having a teh tarik session with friends, I received an SMS about a car plunging into a ravine at 35.4KM Karak-Kuala Lumpur Highway. Initial reports of it plunging into a river at the bottom of the ravine requires the water rescue team on-site. Hitching a ride with an officer, we proceeded to the location.
Suspected 'entry' point
Abseiling down to look for clues

The rescue team faced difficulty to get any clues as to whom the car belonged to as the car was upside down in knee deep mud. Thus, getting the engine or chassis number was out of the question. Looking at the gradient, surroundings of the location where the wreckage was found, its mind boggling to figure out how this car could have ended up at the bottom this bridge. From past experience 'rescuing' in this area, me and a small team went through the old Gombak-Bentong road, which runs parallel to the highway, to look for clues. Without any reference to the wreckage location, we came upon an area that we suspected could be the 'entry' point of the car.
Coordinates taken from my GPS
Due to the darkness of the night, in order to confirm our theory, I had used my personal GPS to mark the coordinates, upload the data into my netbook and locate on the map. True enough, what I see on the map more or less increases the accuracy of our theory. Traces of landslide at this area also confirms the scene that the team scouting the ravine below came upon...a landslide. Also from the data, it clearly shows the gradient was a difference of 80m+ between the suspected point of entry and the wreckage location. At 0130hrs, we received instruction to Stand Down for the day.

Day 2

The K9 Units

At 0900hrs, my JPAM team comprising of 20 members met up with the police's K9 (Crime) team. The Bomba guys would not be joining the operations today. Under the command of Tuan Sam, the traffic police officer from Bukit Aman, we headed off to the location. The K9 team comprised of 4 dogs, German Shepherds. These K9s from the crime unit looks, barks and even acts more ferociously than those rescue dogs that we are used the one in this story.  I won't want to be on the receiving end of those fangs. Funnily, they bark with much enthusiasm everytime Jai, one of my team members walks by. I jokingly told him, "Jauh sikit Jai, uniform hang tu busuk macam bau mayat kot' (Stand further away, maybe your uniform stinks like a corpse) ...hahaha.

JPAM and PDRM Vehicles On-Site
The dizzying depth of the ravine seen from the Highway on top. Can you spot the car?
JPAM & PDRM's K9 scouring the area for evidence
We re-visited the wreckage location. During the day, the actual scene differs entirely. The depth of the ravine is of dizzying height. We assisted the police personnel to get down on-site together with their K9s. Our team securely setup anchors for the rope, enabling team members a safe abseiling access down below. In the meantime, the MTD was called in to extricate the wreckage, or at least raise it high enough for us to get to the engine or chassis number. The MTD brought in their 'Kembalik' team. Due to the depth of the ravine, they had to improvise to add some extra length to the cable.
The wreckage on the way up
Anyone wants a used Kia Optima?
The JPAM team below helped to secure the cables to the wreck, and also used their static rope as a guideline (so that the wreck doesn't twist or turn). As the wreckage was almost to the top, disaster struck. A few hoisting cable either snapped or slipped...until at last it was dangling precariously from one of the cables. Upon talking to the MTD guys, a decision was made to lower back the wreckage and reposition the cables. After all, safety first.

The 'kembalik' leaked its hydraulic fluid at the most crucial time...bummer
Apart from my nice car in the foreground...I wanted to show the sawdust that was used to absorb the hydraulic fluid

As the wreckage was being lowered, again...another disaster. Suddenly there was a gush of hydraulic fluids from the 'Kembalik'. There goes all hope of hoisting the wreckage back up for today. My concern was the safety of the other motorist, especially the motorcyclists. Hydraulic fluid is very slippery, and the impending rain judging from the dark cloud formation would only quicken and expand the rate of its flow. The MTD was quick to bring in sawdust to absorb the fluid. The operation was again halted to wait for repair works on the hydraulics and also for MTD to send fresh hydraulic fluid to the scene.

After some repairs, the 'lowering' activity continued. About a few metres from the ground, disaster #3. The MTD had, in its earlier efforts to secure the snapped cables, relieved some of the chains used by them to improvise (as mentioned earlier), thus causing the length of the cable to shorten by a few metres. As they were using 2 winches, a decision was made to let the cable of one winch (the shorten side) go. But guess what...they didn't have the right more waiting for someone to send the spanner.
Massive traffic jam

At last, the whole operation ended at 1700hrs....more than 24 hours after it was first reported. This operation had forced MTD to close 1 or 2 lanes of the highway. Traffic jam stretched for a few kilometres. It was made worst by cars slowing down to look. I was wondering why some cars were like driving so slow....until I saw the drivers holding mobile phones discreetly under their arm, obviously video taping the scene. CRAZY!!!

Highway concessionaire should ensure that their equipments, especially safety/rescue related are well equipped and maintained, with trained personnel to handle them. Preparation for emergencies should cover the if you have ravines, make sure you have sufficient cable length for the deepest ravine you have. As how I had submitted a proposal to one Highway Concessionary, I had suggested to them to train their 'Response Team' not ONLY in Traffic Management, but to expand their scope as a trained First Responder. Most of the time, they are the first team to arrive at any accident scene on the highways. (They were interested until they came to the training costs...after that quiet, no response) Come on guys, you already have the personnel and the vehicles. All you need to do is spend a bit more for training and rescue equipments.

Oh ya, we managed to get the number plate. After all that effort, it was actually reported stolen a few weeks back. time any of you want to dispose of a vehicle you had stolen, please, please, please...put up a sign on the dashboard that says ' Maaf, ini kereta curi. Tiada orang atau binatang tercedera atau terbunuh semasa kereta ini dibuang ' (Sorry, this car was stolen. No human or animal was hurt or killed during the disposal of this car)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Jalan-Jalan Cari Sungai - Ulu Tamu

A few weeks ago, me and a bunch of close friends came up with the idea for a family weekend trip, preferably over the weekend. I had originally mooted the idea, because that was one of the reason why I bought a have a bonding time with my kids. Well, to tell you the truth, we didn't quite got around to that. So I was looking forward to this trip.

Last minute cancellations includes my significant other because she has to have Internet access to complete her work, my daughter because she's helping out her auntie who's appearing on TV3 for cake decoration thingy and my eldest son whom had to study for his exams. Well that left me with just my youngest son. That will do...for now.

We departed quite late from KL, around 4pm. In a convoy of 4WDs (4 wheel drive), we headed towards Batang Kali. We arrived at the resort aka base camp at 1830hrs. Abg Hamzah was waiting, smiling as always. After some brief introductions, we headed for our chalets to freshen up. At 2000hrs, the BBQ was ready comprising of prawns, chicken, sausages, nuggets, rice (special fried nasi goreng ulam) etc.

After eating, some of us wanted to stretch their vocal cords, thus a few rounds of karaoke was in order. The resort had quite a decent karaoke system, and what started as a stretching exercise soon developed into a marathon.

At midnight, we decided to have a dip at the local hot spring. All of us went, including the kids. There were 3 pools, with different temperatures. I classify it as half boiled eggs, hard boiled eggs and frying eggs. We first tried the coolest...the half boiled egg....great for the kids, but kind of wimpy for us 'men'. Thus, we moved on to the next hottest...the hard boiled egg. A quick dip of the leg and I could have sworn some hair got burnt.

There was a group of teenagers there, dipping and showing off their high level of tolerance to the heat. So us, being men (which simply means a slightly older version of the boys), decided to stay and show off our prowess as well. After much hair loss (chest, arms, thighs etc), just as we were leaving, the last car in our group from KL arrived. Perfect timing.

Wow, a dip in hot water certainly is one of the most relaxing thing. It kept me wide awake. I went on chatting with the guys until 0530hrs, when my 'screen saver' mode was activated.

At 0800hrs, we had breakfast, followed by more karaoke (can you believe it?). At around 1030hrs, the jockeys brought the horses out and the kids has a whale of a time riding them around the corral.

At 1230hrs, we headed of by 4WDs to the next camp, having to cross 2 rivers to get there. This camp could only be reached by 4WDs, unless you can drive a sedan through the rivers. Mind you, if the rain is heavy upstream, the rivers get swollen that even us 4WDs wouldn't be able to cross them. After setting up camp at our usual spot, the resort personnel came on 4WD to set up lunch by the river. Everyone had fun bathing in the river, especially the kids. Of course us dads had to accompany them...not that we want to (La La La). Then we came up for food, then went down to bath, then came up for food...and the vicious cycle continues...haha.

Around 1530hrs, we started preparing the 4WDs for the journey over slightly 'rougher' terrain. Tyres were deflated to almost half, wheels were locked and the 4WD engaged. Through hill climbing, mud and uneven tracks, we drove on. My jalopy being at the front, had to act as backup recovery vehicle for those at the back. Some of the vehicles were standard ie no modification, AT (All Terrain) tyres, standard height. We had planned this very 'light & easy' trail to let the 'newbies' get some thrill under controlled conditions.

After all that, we went down to the river and much like the Mahouts with their elephants in Thailand, that's how us 4 wheelers with our jalopies. We parked them dead smack in the river, and wash and bathe them. Hmm...maybe that's why the wives get upset ... like the wives of the Mahouts.

As we said our goodbyes, plans were underway to plan another slightly farther trip...maybe over 3 days. That one involves river tubing, slightly longer 4WD trail...and this time, I hope to have the whole family there.  There's already inquiries from friends whom are interested to try it hey, maybe I would just package these weekend family outings for them. Interested? Come on.... get off that sofa, the air conditioned room and head into the outdoors. Enjoy the greenery while we still can. Don't have a 4WD? Don't worry, I know a few Mahouts...oppss...4 Wheelers whom would be glad to take you on board.
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