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Thousands flee Malaysia floods, dam wall broken
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Dec 26, 2012


This picture taken on December 24, 2012 shows a bird's eye view of flooded streets of the northeastern town of Kuantan. A woman drowned in a swollen river while fishing as flash floods hit Malaysia's northeastern states triggered by the country's annual heavy monsoon rains, the official Bernama news agency said. Photo courtesy AFP.

Floods triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Malaysia forced almost 14,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter at relief centres, the official Bernama news agency said Wednesday.

Heavy rain coinciding with high tide flooded hundreds of homes in three northeastern states -- Terengganu, Pahang and Kelantan -- with some 13,746 people moved to evacuation centres, it said amid forecasts of more downpours.

Bernama said the flood situation was deteriorating as the number of evacuees continued to rise and some major roads in Pahang were closed as rivers burst their banks.

Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, the meteorological department's weather forecast director, warned that there could be more rain in Terengganu, Pahang and southern Johor state in the next few days.

"We expect intermittent rain to heavy showers in (some parts of) the states," he told AFP, adding that the northeast monsoon season would last until March and the affected states could experience at least three more "heavy rain" episodes.

Part of the $108 million Paya Peda irrigation dam wall under construction in Terengganu had to be broken to release pressure, according to Bernama.

The move caused flash floods in some parts of the oil-rich state.

Bernama also reported that a 36-year-old woman had drowned in Terengganu after she slipped and fell into a rain-swollen river on Tuesday while fishing in a water-logged area. No other deaths from the floods have been reported so far.

In the Pahang state capital Kuantan, thousands of people and some businesses were affected by flash flooding after three days of continuous rain, forcing around 3,000 people to relief centres housed in schools and community halls, where hot meals and blankets were provided.

Hundreds of motorists were caught in the floods which caused massive traffic jams, while hundreds of cars in parking lots and underground parking areas were submerged by fast-rising water.

Nagandran Bangariah, 31, from Kuantan said the floods he had seen there were the worst he had experienced in ten years.

"It was a terrible sight. There was rubbish floating everywhere. Motorists struggled to get their cars to high ground," he told AFP.

"Today, a major clean-up is going on. Furniture showrooms in Kuantan were dumping their damaged sofa sets and cabinets. My neighbour is busy cleaning his house after water and mud entered his home," he said.

Razali Sulong, a 52-year-old flood evacuee in Pahang state said he had sought shelter at a school along with his wife and five children.

"Floods are an annual affair for us but this time the water rose very fast.

"We have been staying for two days at the evacuation centre where food and blankets were provided," he said.

Razali said the family was preparing to return home Wednesday as flood water has receded but knew that from past experiences there would be at least two more rounds of flash floods before the monsoon season ends.

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