Malaysia warns of dangerous levels of rain heading into New Year

People wading through flood waters in Shah Alam, Selangor on Dec 21, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has warned of dangerous levels of continuous rain for almost the entire east coast heading into the New Year, a grim forecast for some states that are still reeling from devastating floods just two weeks ago.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department on Friday (Dec 31) issued a top red alert warning for coastal districts in four states - Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor - which lie on the eastern coast of the peninsular. The dangerous rain alert is valid until the end of Friday.

An amber alert - the second in a three-level alert system - has also been issued for several other districts in the four states until New Year's Day.

The red alert comes a day after the department said the monsoon season is expected to last until Jan 3 in Malaysia.

Rainfall and flooding had already started in parts of the east coast by Thursday, with people being displaced in parts of Kelantan and Terengganu.

As at Thursday night, over 1,000 individuals were in flood relief centres in Kelantan - where the districts of Jeli and Kuala Krai were flooded.

In Terengganu, 137 people were evacuated after flooding in the district of Dungun.

Pahang, which was badly affected by rain and floods two weeks ago - which also caused a mud flood and washed away timber logs - is bracing itself for the second wave of floods.

Pahang, the third-biggest state, sits in the centre of Peninsular Malaysia with part of it extending to the east coast. It borders Selangor, which surrounds the capital territory Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is still in the midst of recovering and counting its losses after continuous rain caused by a tropical depression wreaked havoc two weeks ago, inundating large parts of the most developed state Selangor and several Pahang districts.

With the death toll at 48 and several more still missing, this was the deadliest flood in Malaysia's history.

While monsoon flooding is an annual recurrence on the east coast, such large-scale flooding is rare in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and other states on the west coast of the country.

A Royal Malaysian Army officer pushing a wheelbarrow cart through debris caused by floods in Hulu Langat, Malaysia, on Dec 22, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

At its peak, over 70,000 people were displaced during the floods, although that number has dropped drastically in the past week as flood waters dried up and clean-up works began in many of the affected areas.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob earlier admitted weaknesses in dealing with the disaster.

The government has formed a special multi-agency task force, led by Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali, to deal with a possible second wave of the floods.

The worst east coast monsoon flooding in recent memory took place in 2014, when more than 200,000 were displaced and 21 people were killed.

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