At least four people have died and nearly 41,000 were evacuated in Malaysia after floodwaters caused by “unusual” torrential rains lasting days swept through several states, officials said yesterday.
Local reports and social media posts showed images of flooded roads, submerged vehicles, waterlogged homes and rows of shops closed in the affected areas, mainly in the southern state of Johor near neighboring Singapore.
The rains have continued unabated, hampering relief efforts.
At least four people have died since Wednesday, including a man whose car was swept away by floodwaters and an older couple who drowned, police said.
Nearly 41,000 people from six states, although mostly from Johor, have been evacuated to schools and community centers where food, water and clothes were provided.
The latest fatality was a 68-year-old woman who drowned near her flooded house after she left an evacuation center in Segamat, a town in Johor, police said.
In the Johor town of Yong Peng, journalists saw a family wading in brown waters above knee-deep outside their home, with their children using tire tubes as floats.
Safiee Hassan, 38, said he and his family managed to save their refrigerator, sofa and some electrical items.
“Other things like our bed, mattress, cupboard, are damaged,” he said.
Malaysian Nature Society president Vincent Chow that these are the worst floods to hit Johor since 1969.
Chow said he had received urgent calls for help from villagers living along a riverbank in Peta village, about 120km north of Yong Peng.
“People are crying for food and medicine. The only way to provide food and clothes is by air,” he said.
Malaysia is facing unprecedented continuous torrential rain from the annual monsoon season that began in November last year.
The Southeast Asian nation often experiences stormy weather around the year’s end, with seasonal flooding regularly causing mass evacuations and deaths.
However, Meenakshi Raman, president of environmental group Friends of the Earth Malaysia, said that the large volume of rainfall is “unusual” at this time of the year, blaming the flooding on the lack of green spaces.
“Forest and land clearings in the upper reaches of our rural areas, towns and cities lead to our rivers and drains choked with soil erosion and they cannot contain the increased volumes of rainfall,” Meenakshi said. “Moreover, the over-concretizing of areas also leads to overflows of water, as there is little green left to act as sponges.”
The Meteorological Department has warned that the rain could go on until next month.
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