Floods across Malaysia disrupt CNY plans

Mr Lam Jie, 67, standing on a chair to avoid the flood waters in his house in Sungai Lembing, Kuantan, yesterday. His plans for Chinese New Year have been disrupted after flood waters rose to waist-level, ruining many items in his residence. A priest
Mr Lam Jie, 67, standing on a chair to avoid the flood waters in his house in Sungai Lembing, Kuantan, yesterday. His plans for Chinese New Year have been disrupted after flood waters rose to waist-level, ruining many items in his residence. PHOTO: FOTOBERNAMA
Mr Lam Jie, 67, standing on a chair to avoid the flood waters in his house in Sungai Lembing, Kuantan, yesterday. His plans for Chinese New Year have been disrupted after flood waters rose to waist-level, ruining many items in his residence. A priest
A priest wading through flood waters at the Sri Marathandavar temple in Pahang. The second worst-hit state has seen more than 7,000 people evacuated to relief centres.PHOTO: FOTOBERNAMA

Continuous rain has disrupted Chinese New Year plans for thousands of people across Malaysia, as roads closed, homes were flooded and thousands were moved to relief centres.

Districts in 10 of Malaysia's 13 states were faced with floods yesterday. More than 15,000 people, mainly from smaller towns and villages in rural areas, had to leave their homes to the relief centres.

Johor state suffered the brunt of rising waters, with more than 8,000 evacuees and one fatality, officials said. The deceased, a 21-year-old man from Segamat district, was swept away by strong currents when the boat he was in capsized on Tuesday. Roads were closed in four Johor districts.

In Pahang, the second worst hit state with more than 7,000 evacuees, officials announced that 23 federal and state roads affected by the flood have been shut.

In Pahang's Lipis district, most roads were closed. Another seven roads in Pahang were closed to light vehicles.

 

Poor weather has dampened the mood for the festive season, with many Chinese families in smaller towns fretting over their losses and worried that their children will not be able to travel home from the cities in time for the traditional reunion dinner today.

"My three children who are in Kuala Lumpur will not be able to come back for the celebration as the road to Sungai Lembing is flooded," retiree Wong Ah Chai from Pahang told news agency Bernama, referring to a major river in the state.

Gloomy weather is expected to continue throughout the festive season, with the Malaysian Meteorological Department forecasting rain and thunderstorms in several states, including on the west coast of peninsula Malaysia.

"Rain and thunderstorms are expected to occur over the states in the west coast of the peninsula, in rural areas, Tawau and east coast of Sabah, as well as in Bintulu, Miri, Limbang and Kapit in Sarawak in the afternoons," the department's director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail told Bernama.

"Rain is also expected to occur over several areas in Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and all areas in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan during the night," she added.

Kuala Lumpur has largely been spared of flooding but daily rainfall has caused massive traffic all around the Klang Valley region over the past week.

Most Kuala Lumpur residents have begun their exodus out of the city for the holidays, with traffic reduced to a crawl in both directions, northbound and southbound.

PLUS Malaysia Bhd, operator for the North-South Expressway, has issued travel time advisories for drivers heading to different states.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2017, with the headline 'Floods across Malaysia disrupt CNY plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe