Malaysian DPM orders more transport assets to flood-hit areas as almost 120,000 evacuated

Volunteers carry a man on a stretcher out of a helicopter during a mission to evacuate elderly people from the National Park in Kuala Tahan, to Jerantut, Pahang on Dec 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
Volunteers carry a man on a stretcher out of a helicopter during a mission to evacuate elderly people from the National Park in Kuala Tahan, to Jerantut, Pahang on Dec 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

KOTA BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin flew into flood-ravaged Kelantan and Pahang and issued a directive for the deployment of more helicopters, boats and land vehicles to ensure that help reaches all the affected people.

He said due to the severity of the tragedy, the current transportation assets deployed were inadequate.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who heads the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee, promised an all-out effort to help the victims.

"I admit that the situation is challenging to the rescue workers and we are trying our best to make sure that the food arrives to the victims depending on the flood situation," he said in Kota Baru after being briefed on the situation in the state.

"The National Security Council (NSC) will look into this. The helicopters and the boats that we are currently using may not be enough. The logistic facilities must be stepped up," he told reporters after visiting a flood relief centre on Friday.

Almost 120,000 flood victims have been evacuated in the country, including in the northern states of Kedah and Perlis and the west coast states of Perak and Johor.

Accompanying Mr Muhyiddin in Kelantan were International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim, Kelantan Deputy Mentri Besar Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah and Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa.

Mr Muhyiddin also ordered agencies to ensure that all evacuation centres had enough food and other supplies for one week instead of the current practice of three days.

This, he said, was to avert supply shortage and the need to make frequent deliveries to these centres.

"Increasing the stock will alleviate the need to make frequent deliveries, which can be hampered by the fast-flowing floodwaters and the bad weather," he said.

He also said that the NSC had been instructed to buy as many units of power bank as possible for the use of secretariat staff at the relief centres to maintain a constant communication link through smartphones.

Mr Muhyiddin also directed that all evacuees be provided with enough clean water for drinking and that diesel be sent immediately to the centres where electricity was powered by generators.

He said that the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry would step up the supply of diesel to premises where there was a critical shortage, such as hospitals affected by the floods.

Mr Muhyiddin also said that the relocation of patients from the flood-hit hospitals would be looked into urgently.

"Whatever the situation, we will handle it. The important thing is to save lives. No life should be lost through our negligence," he said.

In addition to a special RM50 million (S$19 million) allocation by the Government to help the victims, public bodies including the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Ministry has allocated RM362,000 worth of food aid for those affected.

In Pahang later, Mr Muhyiddin attended a solat hajat (prayers for a wish to be fulfilled) session along with a 1,000-strong congregation at Al Makmur Mosque to seek God's compassion to ease sufferings due to the ravaging flood.

It was held after the Friday prayers and also attended by Pahang Mentri Besar Adnan Yaakob and Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.

A heroic rescue and relief effort to help flood victims in seven states was ramped up further as the number of evacuees in one of Malaysia's worst flooding incidents reached almost 120,000.

More resources including helicopters and boats have been mobilised, with the Armed Forces setting up a 24-hour flood aid collection centre at the Subang Air Force base. The Reserve Army has been deployed to help send supplies of fresh water to victims in Pahang and Terengganu.

The worsening floods showed no signs of abating with heavy rain in Kelantan yesterday.

A total of 119,624 flood victims had been evacuated as at 5pm on Friday.

Kelantan, where the floods have been the worst in 30 years, recorded 45,467 victims seeking shelter at evacuation centres.

Other affected states were Terengganu with 34,884 evacuees, Pahang (32,380), Perak (6,119), Johor (537), Perlis (209) and Kedah (28).

Rescue efforts were hampered in some cases due to fast-rising waters, strong currents and roads to affected locations that continued to be cut off.

A total of 300 bridge tracks, 10 train stations and 19 coaches were submerged in flood waters of up to 10 feet high.

Despite the difficulties, there were many stories in every state of heroic rescue efforts.

In Lipis, Pahang, Fire and Rescue Department personnel hoisted on their shoulders an elderly man who could not walk, while another team in Kuala Krai rescued a woman who had just given birth by carrying her and her newborn twin babies on a stretcher to safety.

Malaysians from all walks of life are coming forward to help with cash and donations of supplies, supplementing efforts by various non-governmental organisations and corporate bodies.

The Star, on its part, has joined hands with the Malaysian Red Crescent Society and Firefly to collect donations for victims of the floods and to fly the supplies to relief centres in the affected states.