Number of evacuees in Malaysia's worst flooding in a decade jumps to 203,000

A boy looks on as he swims in floodwaters in Kota Bahru on Dec 28, 2014. The number of evacuees in massive flooding in Malaysian states reached 203,000 on Sunday evening, a jump from the 160,000 people staying in overcrowded relief centres on Sa
A boy looks on as he swims in floodwaters in Kota Bahru on Dec 28, 2014. The number of evacuees in massive flooding in Malaysian states reached 203,000 on Sunday evening, a jump from the 160,000 people staying in overcrowded relief centres on Saturday, media reports say. -- PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - The number of evacuees in massive flooding in Malaysian states reached 203,000 on Sunday evening, a jump from the 160,000 people staying in overcrowded relief centres on Saturday, media reports say.

More than half of the evacuees were from Kelantan.

Flood waters receded yesterday in parts of Peninsular Malaysia, allowing residents in Selangor and Perlis to return to their homes.

But in other states such as Kelantan, more residents were evacuated and most stayed put in the schools and public halls that are being used as relief centres as there were no food in their water-clogged homes, Kelantan's Social Welfare Department told Bernama news agency.

Electrical power was also non-existent in most places ravaged by the floods as power substations had been shut off for days by utility company Tenaga Nasional.

Thousands of people remained stranded in Kelantan, the state worst hit by the massive deluge this year, media reports say, with some of them updating their social networks to ask for help.

Some users of Twitter and Instagram on Saturday pointed to a group of 200 families in Kuala Krai in remote Kelantan who needed food, cooking gas, candles and torchlight batteries.

"Although the water is decreasing fairly well, we are still cut out from outside communication," the Instagram message said. Only one out of the three main telecommunications services was still working, the message said.

The government's response team - using boats, helicopters and army trucks - has been struggling to rescue people from their homes and deliver food due to the widespread areas affected, with many areas of the four biggest Peninsular Malaysia states mostly under water. Some roads had been washed away.

The four states with the most evacuees are 124,966 in Kelantan as at 4pm on Sunday, Terengganu with 36,410 and Perak with 7,581. In Pahang, where data was last collected at 8am Sunday, the number stood at 33,601. Johor had 465 in relief centres.

The 195 evacuees in Perlis and 85 in Selangor all went home on Sunday as flood waters subsided.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who cut short his holiday over the weekend to fly to Kelantan from Hawaii, on Sunday asked his cabinet ministers to drop their holidays and return home to assist the flood victims.

"This decision was made so that they could work to assist in the flood rescue and relief operations," Datuk Seri Najib told a news conference after visiting a flood relief centre in Pahang yesterday.

The east coast and northern states are often the most affected by the annual heavy rains during monsoon as many homes in the rural areas are located on low ground near big rivers.