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The Straits Times
Thursday, Jan 5, 2017
Floods in the north-eastern Malaysian states of Kelantan and Terengganu have now forced almost 23,000 people to leave their homes and more relief centres have been opened, rescue officials said yesterday.
Seasonal flooding hits Malaysia's east coast states every year and regularly results in mass evacuations.
The latest round has forced the authorities to evacuate 10,038 residents from Kelantan and 12,910 people from neighbouring Terengganu, officials said.
Heavy rain in the past five days has also caused 101 schools to be closed. Many roads are impassable and train services to some destinations in Kelantan have been suspended.
But no deaths have been reported so far in the two states.
Mr Che Adam Abdul Rahman, the civil department force chief in Terengganu, told Agence France- Presse that the number of evacuees rose sharply to 12,910 from 4,352 the previous day. They are being housed in 139 relief centres that provide food, drinks and medical aid, he said.
"It is still raining heavily. Some 30 village roads are closed, and water levels at some places are about 1m deep and we are using boats to evacuate villagers."
In Kelantan, which in December 2014 suffered massive floods and major destruction of homes and infrastructure, more than 10,000 people have been displaced by flooding.
The figure rose from 4,906 on Tuesday, said Mr Zainuddin Hussin, chief of the state's civil department force.
He said 74 relief centres are operating in Kelantan but rainfall was scattered and many rivers were no longer overflowing their banks.
Malaysia's worst flooding in decades in 2014 had forced some 118,000 people to flee. Prime Minister Najib Razak came under fire then after photos showed him playing golf with US President Barack Obama during the emergency.
With a snap general election expected to take place this year, Datuk Seri Najib will visit Terengganu and Kelantan on Saturday to oversee the evacuations, his aide said.
Votes from the two states will be crucial for his ruling party, Umno.
Floods have also struck 10 villages in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island due to heavy rain, the national news agency Bernama reported.