Five dead, more than 70,000 evacuated in Malaysia floods
Kelantan, Terengganu and Johor are among the states hit by flooding, with more rain expected in the coming days.
KUALA KRAI, Kelantan: At least five people were killed and more than 70,000 rushed to evacuation centres in Malaysia after monsoon-triggered floods inundated the country's north, authorities said on Wednesday (Dec 21).
More than 31,000 people have fled their homes in Kelantan state while more than 39,000 residents have been evacuated to temporary shelters in neighbouring Terengganu after flooding began over the weekend, the official Bernama news agency said.
Emergency services officials said that a total of five people had been killed.
"The water levels reached almost three metres," Muhammad Ameenudin Badrul Hisyam from Kuala Krai district in Kelantan told AFP, as he cleared debris from his home after a nearby river overflowed and forced his family to flee.
Local media reported that four people died in Kelantan on Monday when three sisters were electrocuted while wading in the floodwaters and a 15-month-old boy drowned.
The fifth victim was a two-year-old girl swept away by strong currents in Terengganu last Sunday.
Additional evacuations took place in the states of Pahang, Johor and Perak, Bernama reported.
Videos on social media showed brown water gushing into fields and streets, submerging cars and causing rivers to breach their banks. Emergency responders were seen wading in waist-deep water to rescue victims.
Malaysia's meteorological department forecast continuous rain through Thursday in several states, including Terengganu.
The Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID), meanwhile, has warned of more floods in the comings days as the monsoon season, which lasts from October to March, carries on. Authorities urged residents to evacuate if possible.
The intense rainfall in Kelantan hit a record of 627mm on Sunday, the highest since 1967, said the DID.
The Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department said that it has mobilised 18,053 members including the Volunteer Fire Brigade and Auxiliary Fire Officers throughout the country to help with flood rescue operations.
It is also activating helicopters and drones for severely affected areas.
Newly elected Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim visited affected areas and a school being used as an evacuation centre in Kelantan on Wednesday.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said in parliament on Tuesday that the government had initially allocated RM400 million (US$90 million) to the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) to deal with the emergency.
Disaster officials said they would aerially monitor the flood situation in the worst-hit areas.