The Haunting of Highland Towers: Exploring The Paranormal Claims Shrouding The Tragic 1993 Collapse

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source: Astro Awani

As many would recall, a great catastrophe known as the Highland Towers collapse took place in Kuala Lumpur on December 11, 1993; leaving behind whiffs of tragedy as well as mystery, when locals began to speculate that supernatural elements may have influenced the fall.

To revisit the root of the occurrence, the Highland Towers were a trio of residences situated on a hill along Taman Hillview in Ampang. One of the towers, Tower One, unexpectedly collapsed on that fateful morning, killing 48 people while numerous others were injured.

A multitude of factors contributed to the collapse, including inadequate maintenance, structural flaws, and significant rain that eroded the soil. Prior to the collapse, some inhabitants even mentioned spotting fissures in the walls and ceilings, indicating that the structure had a history of structural distortions.

source: NST

The fall unfolded in the early hours of the morning when many of the occupants were still asleep. The surrounding residents were startled by the noise and impact of the collapse, and immediately alerted emergency personnel. The rescue efforts were initiated as soon as the authorities and emergency services arrived at the scene; however authorities found several residents buried and trapped under the rubble as the collapse had inflicted such serious damage.

The search for survivors dragged for a number of days, although the likelihood of finding any decreased with each passing hour. The rescue teams were ultimately compelled to halt the search after four days due to safety risks.

source: The Star

The incident highlighted concerns about the upkeep and safety of high-rise structures, as well as the authorities’ and building owners’ duties to protect the citizens’ wellbeing. Stricter norms and regulations were implemented in Malaysia as a result of the tragedy to stop similar incidents from happening in the future. The incident also led to a comprehensive revamp of the country’s building safety requirements.

Needless to say, multiple news agencies covered the chronology and aftermath of the event at the time. What came unexpected were the strange allegations suggesting that paranormal forces were at play during the collapse. These claims instilled fear in citizens and those living in close proximity to the Towers, albeit never proven.

source: Astro Awani

One of the most widespread paranormal urban legends holds that the Highland Towers were erected on a cemetery and the spirits of the deceased were incensed by the construction. However, experts have refuted this and established that there had not been cemetery built on the property prior to the building’s construction.

There is also a common notion that the building’s fall was brought on by supernatural phenomena. Many individuals believe that the buildings’ ultimate collapse was prompted by a curse or haunting, despite authorities establishing that a combination of structural flaws and soil erosion was to blame.

Furthermore, there have been reports of paranormal activity and ghost sightings in the vicinity of the Highland Towers, especially after dark.

Most commonly, netizens allege that they have heard sounds of wailing or screaming from no apparent source – but when it comes to popular urban legends that have circulated amongst Malaysians over the past 20 years, there are two in particular that usually come to mind:

Passenger From Beyond The Grave

Image AI-generated via Dall-e

In 1994, rumour had it that a hitchhiker in the form of a young woman had gotten into a taxi in the middle of the night, asking to be dropped off at “Hillview”. She kept the small talk to a minimal despite the driver’s efforts to converse.

Suddenly, she gestured for him to stop at a junction, which he noticed were the Highland Towers. Feeling uneasy, he questioned her strange request, only for her to explain that she had left several of her belongings there. He asked what they were, and she simply responded, “My body and my life. I died here.”

Appalled, he turned to face her, only to find that he was now alone in the vehicle.

“Have you seen my other arm?”

Image AI-generated via Dall-e

Besides that, another spooky claim came from a paranormal researcher who asserted that he had been researching one of the abandoned blocks within the building and came across a little boy.

He asked the boy what he was doing there, to which the boy turned around, revealing his distorted, “half-torn” face and said that he was looking for his other arm, which he had lost in the other building, where the collapse took place.

The researcher didn’t stick around to chat any further and chose to flee as quickly as he could.

source: NST

It’s crucial to keep in mind that, despite their allure, these paranormal beliefs are untrue and ought to be regarded as such. Malaysian officials have also addressed these rumours, stating that the fall of the Highland Towers was a terrible event brought on by real-world factors, and that we should concentrate on applying the lessons of the past to avoid similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

source: CNA

The remains of the Towers were demolished in June 2019, after earning its reputation as a “paranormal” hotspot and being subject to multiple bouts of vandalism. A handful of Malaysians noted at the time that they welcomed the demolition. Apart from being an eyesore, they stated that many individuals would visit the area and even use drones in attempt to capture supernatural activity, or in seeking lottery numbers.

In 2019, Ustaz Safri Abu Talib, the imam at Surau Al Muhajirin situated in the residential area near the Highland Towers, also told NST that he hopes the demolition would help “bury the tragic past” for good.

We offer our condolences & deepest sympathy to the victims and others affected by the collapse.