More than 48,000 people evacuated in Malaysia to escape floods

A road connecting Bandar Al-Muktafi Billah Shah in Terengganu to three villages is submerged, on Jan 7, 2021. PHOTO: BERNAMA
Local rescue volunteer Muhammad Fadzil Wahab rescuing a kitten from the rooftop of an abandoned house in Mentakab town in Malaysia's Pahang state, on Jan 8, 2021. PHOTO: AFP
A submerged car is seen following heavy monsoon rain, in Kampung Desa Bakti, Pahang, on Jan 7, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR- More than 48,000 people in six Malaysian states were sheltering in 400 relief centres on Friday (Jan 8) to escape rising floodwaters as monsoon rain continued to lash parts of the country.

The number of evacuees have more than doubled from 20,575 people reported on Wednesday morning.

Apart from those evacuated in the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, and eastern Johor, several dozen people were evacuated from rural areas in Perak and Sabah states, Bernama news agency reported.

Malaysia's flood crisis, which is into its third month, has sent vegetable prices soaring, with delivery to Singapore affected due to blocked roads.

Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Farmers Association president Lim Ser Kwee said the prices of vegetables have gone up as the bad weather has affected output.

"There has been no sun for one week, and rain for three to four days. So the vegetables can't grow," Mr Lim told The Straits Times.

He said the prolonged rainy season had caused a drop in supply by around 30 to 40 per cent.

The price of chye sim has increased from RM3 a kilogramme to RM4, while the price of long beans have risen to RM8 a kilogramme from RM4 last month, he said.

Mr Bernard Teh, manager of Yong Kah vegetable farm in Simpang Renggam, Johor, which exports 60 to 70 per cent of its produce to Singapore, said the delivery of vegetables to the city state was affected as some roads are closed due to the floods.

Non-stop heavy rain over the last 72 hours have also caused his crops to die, with production over the last one to two weeks dropping by more than 50 per cent.

"For some items, there is no output at all. You wouldn't be able to get any even if you had the money," he said, citing chye sim and water spinach among some of the vegetables most impacted by the monsoon season.

"The supply issue may even continue until after Chinese New Year," he said, explaining that vegetables such as beans and cucumbers require 60 to 80 days to mature, while leafy vegetables will need 20 to 30 days.

Mr Momy Ket Jik, senior sales manager at Ban Choon Marketing Pte Ltd, said the vegetable supply from Malaysia has been affected since last week, causing the company to rely more heavily on its other sources for imports.

At least five deaths have been reported due to the annual monsoon season, which typically starts in November and lasts for about four months.

The latest victim was a 20-year-old man, who fell from a boat on Thursday while helping flood victims to move to a shelter in Kuala Krai, Kelantan.

Pahang, the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia by size, has been the worst hit in the current rainy season, with many of its large rivers swollen with raging rainwater.

There were 27,073 evacuees were housed at 275 temporary relief centres in nine Pahang districts, Bernama reported.

Anih Bhd, concessionaire of East Coast Expressway (ECE) Phase 1 said some sections of the highway were still impassable to vehicles.

The ECE is the main highway linking Terengganu and Pahang states to Kuala Lumpur.

In neighbouring Terengganu state, the flood victims totalled 12,899 people on Friday morning in 50 relief centres, higher than 8,138 evacuees on Thursday afternoon.

North-east Kelantan state has 6,319 people in relief centres on Friday morning in 74 relief centres.

The number of those at relief centres in Johor at 8am on Friday stood at 1,276, fewer than in recent days.

Johor's health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said they are placed in 14 shelters, while two relief centres have closed due to improved weather conditions, Bernama reported.

A family sitting inside an open-top tent in a vocational school in Kota Tinggi, Johor, after being evacuated because of floods, on Jan 5, 2021. PHOTO: BERNAMA

There were 359 people in Perak relief centres and 35 evacuees in Sabah.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) said it would contribute $50,000 to support relief and recovery operations by the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.

The funds will go towards supporting the thousands of families at 303 relief centres. This would include the distribution of food items, first aid kits, hygiene kits and providing psycho-social support, voucher assistance to affected families in Johor, Pahang and Kelantan, the SRC said in a statement on Friday.

It has also activated its "Restoring Family Links" service to assist Singaporeans and others in locating their immediate family members who may have been affected by the disaster with whom they have difficulty in contacting.

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