Malaysia deploys helicopters, boats to evacuate about 100 people stranded by Pahang floods

-- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
-- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Nearly 60 foreign tourists are among almost 100 people stranded at a resort in a Malaysian national park lashed by its heaviest rainfall in more than four decades, staff said on Wednesday, and the authorities are sending boats and a helicopter to rescue them.About 84 guests, including travellers from Canada, Britain, Australia and Romania, and 10 staff members at the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort, in the East Coast state of Pahang, were marooned after Sungai Tembeling overflowed its banks, a resort official told Reuters.The local fire and rescue department was sending boats and looking for a safe spot for a helicopter to land, he said.The park, a popular ecotourism destination spanning 434,300ha of tropical rainforest, has recorded its highest rainfall since 1971, following major floods on the country’s east coast, state news agency Bernama said.

Residents were warned to avoid coastal areas and river mouths as tides were expected to reach their peak over the next two nights, Malaysian newspaper The New Straits Times said.

"They should have left today (Tuesday) but the dangerous river has cut off the place from the outside world and we are running low on food. Nonetheless, we ensure the safety and well-being of tourists and if necessary, we will use a helicopter to drop food for us tomorrow," a resort employee, who declined to be named, said late on Tuesday.

Evacuation started at 8.30am on Wednesday, with boats sent to bring the victims to the nearby SK Kuala Tahan, and helicopters deployed to airlift victims to Jerantut Hospital, reported The New Straits Times.

Eastern Peninsula Malaysia is regularly hit by flooding during the annual Northeast Monsoon. This year nearly 60,000 people have been evacuated due to the floods, mostly from the east coast, according to the latest figures by Bernama.