Friday, 21 January, 2022

Thousands evacuated as floods hit Malaysia

Thousands evacuated as floods hit Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Seven states in Malaysia were hit by floods on Sunday and thousands of people were evacuated, taking the total affected by heavy rain in the last two weeks to over 125,000, the National Disaster Management Agency said, report agencies.

The agency said in a statement that Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan and Sabah were still affected by floods, and 8,727 people were taking shelter at 128 relief centres.

A total of 125,490 people have been affected by the floods nationwide, it said, of which 117,700 evacuees have returned home.

Floods are common on the eastern coast of Malaysia during the annual monsoon season between October and March, but unusually heavy rainfall that started on Dec. 17 displaced thousands and strained emergency services.

Fifty people have died in the floods, and two remain missing, according to a police tweet citing Inspector-General Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani. Following the meteorological department's warning of continuous heavy rains, the National Disaster Control Centre has issued a disaster operation preparedness notice.

The Department of Irrigation and Drainage also issued a warning of high tides between Jan. 2-5, and cautioned residents on the west coast in Peninsula Malaysia, the statement said.

Malaysia said it will provide 1.4 billion ringgit ($336.22 million) in cash aid and other forms of relief for those hit by severe flooding this month.

It is also seeking $3 million from the UN Green Climate Fund to develop a national plan to adapt to climate change.

Days of torrential rain caused rivers to overflow last month, swamping cities, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Damaged appliances and soaked furniture were piled up on the streets and outside homes in flood-hit areas as residents and volunteers continued a massive clean-up drive.

Many were frustrated with the authorities. "I am angry. There is no assistance from the government... We need cash to rebuild our lives," said Asniyati Ismail, who lives in a residential enclave in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state.

"There is mud everywhere, everything has been destroyed," she told AFP as her two children helped her clean.

The mounds of rubbish left in the area after the floods have also sparked fear of disease outbreaks.

Selangor, which encircles the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, was the state hit hardest by the floods.

Global warming has been linked to worsening floods. Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.

Kawitha Maratha, 39, and her four children were rescued by a boat after floodwater rose rapidly to the second floor of their house in Shah Alam.

Her husband died.

"The flood has destroyed our lives," she said.