At least four people have died and nearly 41,000 were evacuated in Malaysia after floodwaters caused by “unusual” torrential rains lasting days swept through several states, officials said on Saturday (Mar 4).
Local reports and social media posts showed images of flooded roads, submerged cars, waterlogged homes and rows of shops closed in the affected areas, mainly in the state of Johor.
The rains have continued unabated, hampering relief efforts.
Police said at least four people have died since Wednesday, including a man whose car was swept away by floodwaters and an elderly couple who drowned.
Nearly 41,000 people from six states, although mostly from Johor, have been evacuated to schools and community centres where food, water and clothes were provided.
The latest fatality was a 68-year-old woman who drowned near her flooded house after she left an evacuation centre in Segamat town in Johor, local police said.
In the Johor town of Yong Peng, AFP journalists saw a family wading in brownish waters above knee-deep outside their home, with their children using tyre tubes as floats.
Safiee Hassan, 38, said he and his family managed to save their refrigerator, sofa and some electrical items.
“Other things like our bed, mattress, cupboard are damaged,” he told AFP.
Malaysian Nature Society president Vincent Chow told AFP these were the worst floods to hit Johor since 1969.
“Now, the weather is unpredictable. Climate change has outfoxed the weatherman,” he said.
Chow said he had received urgent calls for help from villagers living along a riverbank in Peta village, about 120km north of Yong Peng.
“People are crying for food and medicine. The only way to provide food and clothes is by air,” he added.
Malaysia is facing unprecedented continuous torrential rain from the annual monsoon season that began in November. Its previous worst flooding in decades had been in 2014, when about 118,000 people fled their homes.
Malaysia often experiences stormy weather, with seasonal flooding regularly causing mass evacuations and deaths.