Malaysia evacuated more than 200,000 people and increased relief efforts as the worst floods in decades left at least 10 people dead. Parts of Thailand and Sri Lanka have also been inundated.
The affected states are Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Johor, Perlis, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor, according to state news agency Bernama. The dead include an 18-month old toddler, The Star newspaper reported.
Malaysia is grappling with floods caused by annual monsoon rains that may disrupt output of its key exports of palm oil and rubber. Prime Minister Najib Razak returned to Malaysia from the U.S. amid criticism for being on holiday while the nation contends with the flooding.
“The situation is most critical where the water level is still rising in some areas, and there are also areas which were never flooded previously, but are now facing serious floods,” Najib was cited by Bernama as saying at a press briefing yesterday in northeastern Kelantan state. “I strongly hope for cooperation from everyone to ensure that in the first phase, we can concentrate on rescue efforts and providing aid such as food, blankets, mats, candles and so on.”
The government has allocated an additional 500 million ringgit ($143 million) to help victims, after it earlier approved 50 million ringgit in aid, according to a report on The Star’s website citing Najib. These are the worst floods in Malaysia in 30 years, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was reported as saying by New Straits Times newspaper.
Selangor’s state government will open an operations center to monitor the latest weather situation and prepare for the possibility of more widespread flooding, Chief Minister Azmin Ali said in an e-mailed statement today. The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has mobilized more than 2,000 volunteers in eight flood-affected areas, Bernama said.
Palm oil had its biggest weekly gain since October on lower supply amid concerns that the harvest may be interrupted.
No outbreak of disease has been reported at evacuation centers since flooding hit Terengganu almost two weeks ago, Bernama reported yesterday, citing State Health, Women, Family and Community Development Committee Chairman Muhammad Pehimi Yusof. State power company Tenaga Nasional has temporarily shut 2,318 electrical substations in the flooded states, halting power supply to 150,852 users, according to a Dec. 26 statement from the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry.
Monsoon rains have also flooded parts of Thailand and Sri Lanka. In Thailand, at least eight people have died and two were missing in the four southernmost provinces, the Bangkok Post said, citing the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the region and declared the four provinces as disaster zones, it said.
In Sri Lanka, floods and mudslides after a week of heavy rains have killed 21 people and injured 15, with 10 missing, according to the country’s Disaster Management Center said. The death toll is the highest in southern Uva province, where a landslide killed at least 14 people in October.
Parts of the island’s eastern and northern provinces have also been inundated, and a total of about 1 million people have been affected, according to the center. The military is helping with search and rescue efforts, it said.
–With assistance from Anusha Ondaatjie in Colombo and Shamim Adam in Kuala Lumpur.
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