Thousands evacuated as flash floods inundate parts of Malaysia

A woman holds food while walking through floodwaters in Klang, on Nov 12, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - The first week of the annual north-east monsoon has seen flash floods in different parts of Malaysia, resulting in thousands of people being evacuated to temporary relief centres.

This has prompted many general election candidates to cancel their hustings to attend to flood victims.

The worst affected state is Selangor, where about 800 victims have been moved from their flooded homes in and around the Klang and Kuala Selangor districts to eight relief centres by Saturday afternoon.

Datuk Johan Abd Aziz, the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Hulu Langat parliamentary seat in the state, said he has 15 boats on standby in various villages, ready to evacuate villagers if flood water rises.

“Hulu Langat was one of the worst affected areas during last year’s massive floods. We have been fully prepared since then,” he said.

This was followed by Kelantan, where about 600 victims have been placed in three relief centres in the Pasir Mas and Tanah Merah districts as of late Saturday afternoon.

Residents at the nearby town of Rantau Panjang meanwhile, are on high alert as the water in Sungai Golok have reached 9.91m, surpassing the danger level of 9m.

Over in the northern state of Kedah, the state government has opened up five relief centres to house 220 people from the Kulim and Bandar Baharu districts, which were inundated by flash floods following heavy rain on Friday evening.

In mainland Penang, 160 people were taking refuge in three relief centres by Saturday afternoon after several areas were hit by flash foods the night before.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state government has spent RM300 million (S$89 million) in the last decade on flood mitigation projects. “However, if (the system) is beyond its capacity, flooding will still happen,” The Star quoted him as saying.

In Melaka, nearly 40 people from 11 families were moved to two relief centres after five villages in the district of Alor Gajah were hit by flash floods in the early hours of Saturday.

Malaysia’s meteorological department has warned that there will be thunderstorms and continuous rains until Nov 17. It said heavy rain is expected in several areas in Selangor, Pahang, Kedah, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Terengganu and Kelantan.

Remote video URL
Remote video URL

The recent days’ flash floods have reignited public anger over the caretaker government’s decision to hold the 15th General Election on Nov 19 during the monsoon season, when it has up to September 2023 to do so.

Last year saw one of Malaysia’s worst floods in history, resulting in 54 people killed and damage amounting to about RM6.5 billion.

Fifty flood victims from a township in Shah Alam, Selangor, in June brought a civil lawsuit for negligence against the federal government, local agencies and a state-owned waste management service provider.

In September, they rejected six defendants’ claim in their statement of defence, saying multiple floods have occurred in the area every year. “Flooding that occurs every other year cannot be categorised as an ‘act of God’,” they contended.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.