KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - More than 47,000 people have been moved to relief centres as of yesterday as floods worsened in Johor and hit Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Pahang and Sabah.
The worst may not be over as the Meteorological Department forecasts that the current wet spell would persist in many parts of the country for the greater part of this week, although its intensity should diminish towards the weekend.
In Johor, currently the wettest state, more than 39,500 people have been evacuated to relief centres since Saturday. The other evacuees comprise more than 2,200 in Negri Sembilan, 1,200 in Malacca, 500 in Pahang and 4,000 in Sabah.
Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman yesterday expressed his fears that the flood situation, which has claimed two lives, might turn out to be worse than in 2006 and 2007, when the state suffered one the worst floods in history with more than 100,000 people moved to relief centres.
"In 2006, heavy rain affected only Segamat. This time, it is affecting the whole state.
"We have been on red alert since Saturday," he said in Labis.
All 10 districts in Johor, except Mersing, have been instructed to activate their respective flood operations rooms. The state flood operations room was set up at 3pm on Saturday.
Ghani, who is also state Natural Disaster Committee chairman, said water in several main rivers in the state had risen to "warning" levels or breached dangerous levels.
The menteri besar also visited some 240 evacuees at the Kampung Paya Merah multipurpose hall in Labis, accompanied by state executive councillor Datuk Ahmad Zahri Jamil, state secretary Datuk Abdul Latiff Yusof and newly elected Tenang assemblyman Mohd Azahar Ibrahim.
In nearby Segamat, all roads leading to the town, except the Segamat- Kuantan road, were impassable to vehicles.
Tenaga Nasional Bhd said in a statement yesterday that 134 substations in Segamat had been switched off since Sunday to prevent any untoward incidents.
In Negri Sembilan, the evacuees were from the Tampin, Jempol, Kuala Pilah and Rembau districts as well as the Gemas sub-district, as water inundated low-lying areas since Sunday.
Member of parliament for Tampin, Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor, who is also works minister, said the flood situation in the district was worse than the last one in 2006.
"What's important now is to ensure that all flood victims are given the basic necessities, such as food and blankets, and ensure that the needs of small children are met," he said after visiting a flood relief centre at SMK Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Tampin.
Several roads in Gemas were closed after they were inundated, causing residents much inconvenience as they tried to leave their homes.
Army vehicles and rescue boats from the Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Camp, along with those from the Fire and Rescue Department and Civil Defence, were seen helping victims to evacuate. State Fire and Rescue Department director Saadon Mokhtar said leave for all officers and personnel had been withdrawn and they were on alert round the clock.
Meanwhile, landslides and rising floodwaters between Bahau and Tampin, as well as Kluang in Johor, forced Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) to cancel several of its services to the east and south.
KTMB said in a statement that among the affected services were Ekspress Rakyat from KL Sentral to Singapore and Ekspress Sinaran Timur from Kuala Lipis to Singapore.
In Malacca, the affected areas were mostly in the Jasin and Alor Gajah districts following continuous rain since Sunday.
The Lebuh AMJ (Alor Gajah-Melaka Tengah-Jasin) from Rembia to Simpang Ampat had to be closed to light traffic as a result of the floods.
In Pahang, days of heavy rain have also taken a toll, resulting in more than 500 people from Raub, Rompin, Bentong and Maran being evacuated.
Pahang Traffic and Public Order chief Superintendent Mohamed Fauzi Abdul Rahim said several stretches in the four districts were closed to all vehicles after being submerged in up to two metres of water.
In Sabah, continuous heavy rain for three days caused floods in the east coast, with floodwaters in some areas being as high as two metres.
The affected areas were in Kota Marudu, Beluran, Sandakan and Pitas, where some 4,000 people were evacuated to community halls and schools.