Floods expected in Malaysia's east coast, fewer evacuees in relief shelters

Residents walking through flood waters past partially submerged cars in Shah Alam, Selangor, on Dec 21, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Several areas in the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu are expected to be flooded from Dec 30 to Dec 31, said Malaysia's Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) on Sunday (Dec 26).

The flood prediction was issued by the DID following a warning by the Malaysian Meteorology Department for the period from Dec 25 until the end of the year.

In its statement, the DID said both states will likely experience risk of flooding between 8pm on Dec 30 and 8am the next day, following an expected rise in water levels above the danger level at several rivers.

Meanwhile, fewer flood evacuees sought shelter in relief centres across five Malaysian states on Sunday, compared with the day before.

In total, 35,076 people from 10,348 families took shelter on Sunday, down from 54,532 evacuees on Christmas Day.

According to the Welfare Department's Info Bencana mobile application, the central Pahang state remains the worst-hit, with 17,761 people from 5,469 families displaced, while Selangor came in second, with 16,512 individuals from 4628 families.

In Kelantan, 633 flood victims are currently housed at several relief centres, while in Melaka and Negeri Sembilan, 29 and 141 people respectively are also sheltered in such centres.

To lessen the burden, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that a one-off 100 per cent rebate for December's electricity bill will be given to domestic customers affected by the floods.

He added that a special task force for post-flood activities and for preparing for the second wave of floods will be set up to improve coordination.

"This post-flood work needs proper coordination as I do not want delay in the implementation process, including in providing assistance to flood victims. We also need to be prepared for the second wave of floods, if it happens," he told reporters in Hulu Langat on Sunday (Dec 26).

On Dec 22, rain raised water levels in some parts of Selangor in what has been called the heaviest rainfall in the past 100 years.

As at Sunday, 47 people have died due to the floods, while five are still missing.

A Royal Malaysian Army officer pushes a wheelbarrow cart as he passes by debris at Hulu Langat, Selangor on Dec 22, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said Selangor recorded 25 fatalities, while 19 people died in Pahang and three in Kelantan.

"Fatalities in Selangor involved 17 men and eight women, in Pahang 13 men, four women and two boys," he said in a statement on Sunday, adding that two men and a girl died in Kelantan.

The Department of Minerals and Geosciences on Sunday said a total of 46 landslide locations have been reported in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to date, with nine of them categorised as critical.

Mitigation measures taken include covering the collapsed areas with tarpaulin sheets and monitoring any further soil movement.

Despite the situation improving, Malaysians continue to express their anger towards the government for its handling of the floods.

Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, who previously blamed Malaysians for not taking weather forecasts seriously, was a target of citizens' rage and disappointment.

On Dec 24, he said the public's attitude resulted in many being unprepared for the natural disaster.

Social media was immediately abuzz with hate comments directed towards the Parti Islam SeMalaysia leader, calling him out to not shift the blame.

Facebook user Azhari Misban Azri said that if the government already knew the extent of the forecasts, then they should have mobilised the relevant authorities to help at least two days prior to the incident.

"Instead, the victims were stranded for several days after the floods. Only then do they (the politicians) come. Yet, the people are blamed again," he said, as reported by local news site The Star.

Chiming in, Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin reminded the government that Malaysians will not forget its weaknesses in handling the disaster.

The former Johor chief minister said the catastrophic floods were due to the impact of climate change that had hit the country badly, adding that it was painful to see the loss, destruction and misery that many Malaysians went through.

"Seeing people flocking to help (others) tirelessly convinced me that Malaysians have a great responsibility to take care of each other. The government must learn a lesson, that its weaknesses in managing the crisis will not be easily forgotten by Malaysians," he said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

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