KUALA LUMPUR: More than 50,000 people have been forced from their homes in Malaysia and at least seven are dead after the country faced some of its worst floods for years, officials said on Monday (Dec 20).
Seven people have been confirmed dead in Selangor, according to fire and rescue officials cited in The Star newspaper. With reports of others missing, the toll is expected to climb.
The rains had largely stopped by Monday, leaving residents to return to damaged properties.
Shah Alam police chief Assistant Commissioner Baharudin Mat Taib said three of the dead were found in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, on Monday.
Two of them were believed to be locals, while the identity of the third deceased has yet to be determined, Sinar Harian reported.
ACP Baharudin was earlier quoted as saying that a body was discovered by members of the public near the Alam Idaman condominium in Shah Alam, Selangor, after water levels began to subside at around 7.50pm on Sunday.
“Immediately after being notified of an emergency call involving the body of a man in his 30s, personnel were immediately dispatched to the scene.
“The deceased is believed to have drowned,” the police chief said, according to Malay Mail.
Bernama reported that the unidentified man was a resident of Residensi Hijauan condominium and the case has been classified as sudden death.
The other fatality happened in Kuantan, Pahang. The body of a 34-year-old man was found in Kampung Cempaka at 7.15am on Monday.
Malay Mail, quoting Bernama Radio, wrote that the man has been identified as Mr Mohd Halmi Nazlan, who was travelling in a car with another man from Kuantan to Pekan.
His body was found almost a day after he drifted away from the car in the currents and was retrieved by personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department, it added.
The car was found submerged about 100m from the bridge where they lost control of the vehicle, according to Malay Mail.
Meanwhile, eight people have been reported missing in Bentong, Pahang. They were believed to have been swept away by floodwaters.
Pahang Fire and Rescue Department operations deputy director Ismail Abdul Ghani was quoted as saying by Bernama that three people, including a six-year-old, were reported missing in a water surge incident at a chalet, while five others went missing in Telemong.
The heavy downpours that pounded the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia beginning late Friday has been described as a “once in 100 years” event.
“The annual rainfall in Kuala Lumpur is 2,400mm and this means (Friday’s) rainfall has exceeded the average rainfall for a month. It is something beyond expectations and only occurs once every 100 years,” Environment and Water Ministry (KASA) secretary-general Zaini Ujang was quoted as saying by Bernama.
A weekend of torrential rain caused rivers to overflow, flooding towns and villages and cutting off major roads, with many motorists left trapped in their vehicles for hours.
The number of evacuees across the country rose to about 51,000 on Monday, according to official data, with the worst-hit area being the eastern state of Pahang, where about 32,000 were forced from their homes.
The country's wealthiest and most populous state Selangor, surrounding the capital Kuala Lumpur, has been badly affected - which is unusual as it typically avoids the worst of the monsoon floods.
The National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) was quoted as saying that seven states and one federal territory were affected by floods, namely Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Perak and Kuala Lumpur
Student Eyilavarasi Magesuaran recalled the moment her house was flooded in Shah Alam early on Sunday.
"Water rushed into our house from the rear and back, trapping us inside," the 21-year-old told AFP, adding she was alerted to the flood by her barking dog.
"I really feared we would drown. We have lived here since 1995, and never experienced flooding."
A relative with a truck rescued her family.
Malaysia is hit by floods annually during the monsoon season, but those on the weekend were the worst in years.
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.