Thousands evacuated as floods sweep Malaysia
Yong Yen Nie
The Jakarta Post
A teenager drowned and a child was missing as annual floods swept Johor, Pahang and Terengganu, closing roads as thousands were evacuated to higher ground.
In Johor, 5,459 people have been moved from their homes, with the bulk coming from Mersing, a coastal town popular among Singaporeans as a gateway to Tioman Island.
With rain from the annual north-east monsoon falling continuously since Sunday, the number of evacuees in Johor have doubled from Monday, said Azura Mohammed Kifli, Johor's flood spokesman.
The flood spread on Tuesday to three more districts. Six of Johor's 11 districts are now flooded. They are Kota Tinggi, Kluang, Mersing, Batu Pahat, Muar and Segamat, all located in the north and east of the state.
Highways around the state remain open, and Johor Baru and the Iskandar region in the south, where many Singaporeans have invested in property and businesses, are not affected by the floods.
The flood season in Johor this year appears to be starting out worse than last year's. At about this time last year, only about 1,000 people had been evacuated.
"We expect conditions to improve in the next few days as the Meteorological Department has forecast less rain in Johor by Wednesday," Ms Azura told The Straits Times on Tuesday.
In Kampung Sekijang, Segamat, a bridge used by villagers to cross Sungai Segamat was swept away by raging waters, the New Straits Times reported. No one was hurt.
A total of 16,627 were evacuated in Johor, Pahang and Terengganu.
In Terengganu, six roads were closed to traffic on Tuesday after the rivers and streams nearby burst their banks.
The body of a 17-year-old boy - the first flood victim this year - was found in Sungai Pelantoh in Kijal, Terengganu, at midnight on Monday. Another child was reported missing, according to national news agency Bernama.
Some 2,200 people, mostly from nearby villages, were evacuated to 32 relief centres yesterday, said Mat Zain Kasron, an officer monitoring the state's flood situation.
"So far, the flood has not reached critical levels, and we hope the rain will subside on Wednesday, as predicted by the Met," he told The Straits Times.
Pahang's state capital Kuantan was paralysed, with some roads covered in water more than a metre high. So far, 8,968 people have been evacuated to relief centres in the state.
Malaysia faces heavy rainfall annually due to the north-east monsoon season between November and March.
During this time, the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia and some coastal areas of Sabah and Sarawak receive more rain than usual, at times lasting for up to a week, causing floods.
These floods have in the past destroyed property and disrupted public examinations.
In 2006, the country was hit by its worst flood crisis after experiencing unusually heavy rainfall due to Typhoon Utor that had hit the Philippines and Vietnam.
The floods wiped out farms, and some 100,000 people in Johor were evacuated that year.
The meteorological department has forecast intermittent rain today in five districts in Pahang, including Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin, as well as seven districts in Terengganu.
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