Monsoon Floods Hit Malaysia

January 9, 2007

Flooding from monsoon rains hit northern and eastern Malaysia as thousands of victims in a southern state waited for waters to recede in homes inundated weeks ago, news reports said Monday.

Villages and towns in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah states began reporting floods following heavy rains over the weekend, with at least 600 people evacuated to relief centers so far, the Bernama national news agency reported.

Eastern Sabah state on Borneo Island was also hit, and at least three houses were swept away in raging river waters that rose to dangerous levels, The Star newspaper reported.

The sultanate of Brunei, which borders Sabah, was experiencing flash floods in its largest district, Belait, where waters have risen to 1 meter (3 feet), witnesses said. Some 300 people are stranded in one village, and nearby roads are impassable by car, they said.

Malaysia’s Meteorological Department issued a red alert late Sunday night warning of widespread heavy rain in eight Malaysian states in the north and east, and moderate rains in other areas, including the capital city of Putrajaya and Malaysia’s largest city, Kuala Lumpur.

The bad weather was expected to last at least until Wednesday in the worst-hit areas, the department said on its Web site.

A national disaster management spokesman could not be immediately reached for further details.

More than 16,000 people remained in relief centers in the southern state of Johor, where heavy rains caused major rivers to overflow in late December, killing at least 17, blocking roads and railway lines and disrupting the power supply. Officials have called it the worst flooding in southern Malaysia in a century.

Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Malaysia’s women, family and community development minister, told the New Straits Times that many in Johor were rendered homeless and lost everything. “I have seen poverty but never like this,” she said, appealing for more volunteers to help and promising more government funds for relief efforts.

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