Close to 6,000 people evacuated as Penang remains soaked in metre-high floodwaters

With heavy rainfall and thunderstorms forecast in the next seven days, residents in Penang are bracing themselves for more wet weather this week.
With heavy rainfall and thunderstorms forecast in the next seven days, residents in Penang are bracing themselves for more wet weather this week.PHOTO: REUTERS

GEORGETOWN (THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tens of thousands of students in Penang waded through metre-high floodwaters to take the SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) examination on Monday (Nov 6) as the worst floods to hit the state showed no signs of abating.

There are around 23,000 students taking the first paper, Bahasa Melayu Kertas, in Penang. More than 34,000 candidates are taking the exam in Kedah, another state which has been hit by floods.

Education Deputy Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan has said the ministry was closely monitoring the flood situation in the affected states.

The number of flood evacuees at 62 relief centres in Penang increased from 3,779 victims on Sunday night to 5,845 on Monday morning.

As of Monday morning, flood waters remained nearly 1m high in many parts of Penang mainland, even though there has been no rain since Sunday morning.

The Sungai Muda river in North Seberang Prai district burst its banks on Monday morning, with the water level rising to 5.2m, more than 1m above its maximum level of 3.96m.

With heavy rainfall and thunderstorms forecast in the next seven days, residents in Penang are bracing themselves for more wet weather this week.

"This phenomenon is called the Borneo vortex, and it brings heavy rain and winds," said Dr Fredolin Tangang, professor of climatology and physical oceanography at the School of Environmental and Natural Resources, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

 
 
 

The state's worst flooding caused its Chief Minister to enlist Malaysia's police and military to help with relief efforts. Seven were killed in the floods.

Some experts however believe that the worst might be over for Penang because an 18-hour deluge which ended on Sunday morning was the result of a low pressure system which had passed the state.

It also coincided with the start of the monsoon season.

"The bad floods that hit Kelantan and Terengganu in 2014 were a result of the Borneo vortex," Dr Tangang explained.

Penang Fruits Association chairman Wong Jee Min, 47, said that strong winds and rain toppled at least 500 durian trees at various orchards in Penang.

"Luckily, there is not much yield from the orchards now as the durian season in Penang is between May and August. But my members still have a lot of clearing to do," said Wong.

Several durian trees at his own orchard in Batu Hitam were uprooted.