KUALA LUMPUR - Flash floods in two east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia have left nearly 20,000 people displaced and two dead.
Continuous heavy rain since last Wednesday (Feb 23) has caused flooding in several districts in Terengganu and Kelantan, forcing residents to be evacuated and sheltered at 225 relief centres.
Kelantan's deputy police chief Muhamad Zaki Harun said police were using drones to help in flood rescue operations as some of the affected areas could not be reached by normal transportation.
Both the fatalities were in Kelantan. A 70-year-old man died on Sunday in Kuala Krai, while a 13-year-old boy was found dead on the same day in Kota Bharu.
Datuk Zaki said the boy was believed to have been riding a bicycle with his friends when he skidded and fell into a canal at the village.
"His friends tried to save him but failed and called nearby villagers for help," Datuk Zaki was quoted as saying by national news wire Bernama on Monday.
"The search operation managed to find the victim around 50m from where he fell."
The floods have displaced more than 11,000 people in Kelantan and over 8,000 in Terengganu.
This is the third time Malaysia is facing flash floods in a short span of nearly three months.
In mid-December 2021, the country experienced its heaviest rainfall in the last 100 years, which saw eight of the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia hit by floods that lasted for almost three weeks. At least 54 people died.
Torrential rain that pummelled Malaysia during the New Year period also caused floods in six peninsular states and Sabah on Jan 2.
Terengganu Parti Keadilan Rakyat Youth deputy leader Wan Muhamad Haikal Wan Ghazali has questioned the state government's unpreparedness in tackling the floods despite warnings from the Meteorological Department.
"The floods this time were a bit out of the ordinary as they are outside the regular monsoon season. However, it is surprising that there is no readiness by the state government as MetMalaysia had issued a weather forecast since early February saying that the weather in Terengganu is not as usual," he said in a statement on Monday.
Besides Terengganu and Kelantan, MetMalaysia had also issued a continuous rain warning for areas such as Pahang, Johor, Kedah, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. It advised residents in flood-prone and low-lying areas to be alert to the instructions of the authorities.
Mr Wan Muhamad said: "We feel that the state government has been reckless in failing to warn the people of Terengganu to prepare. We also question the governance of the state government, which seems not to be serious in dealing with the issue of floods in the state."
Kelantan resident Ahmad Sahak, 54, told The Straits Times that he is exhausted with facing the same problem for years.
"I'm just so tired of having to go through this every year. When will we (Kelantan and Terengganu) ever find the solution to this problem?" he asked.
"I am now already in my 50s. How long more do I have to wait before the state government finds a concrete solution to this?"